Read Like A Writer

There are two ways to learn how to write fiction: by reading it and by writing it. Yes, you can learn lots about writing stories in workshops, in writing classes and writing groups, at writers' conferences. You can learn technique and process by reading the dozens of books like this one on fiction writing and by reading articles in writers' magazines. But the best teachers of fiction are the great works of fiction themselves. You can learn more about the structure of a short story by reading Anton Chekhov's 'Heartache' than you can in a semester of Creative Writing 101. If you read like a writer, that is, which means you have to read everything twice, at least. When you read a story or novel the first time, just let it happen. Enjoy the journey. When you've finished, you know where the story took you, and now you can go back and reread, and this time notice how the writer reached that destination. Notice the choices he made at each chapter, each sentence, each word. (Every word is a choice.) You see now how the transitions work, how a character gets across a room. All this time you're learning. You loved the central character in the story, and now you can see how the writer presented the character and rendered her worthy of your love and attention. The first reading is creative—you collaborate with the writer in making the story. The second reading is critical.

John Dufresne, from his book, The Lie That Tells A Truth: A Guide to Writing Fiction


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Wednesday, September 28, 2016

International Writing Program, University of Iowa, MOOC, How Writers Write Fiction 2016: Storied Women

Greetings, writers!

The new MOOC, How Writers Write Fiction 2016: Storied Women, is shaping up nicely and they can't wait to get started! They hope you'll join them on October 11, 2016 for their exploration of female characters and voices in fiction.
As you move through each class session of the MOOC, you'll be guided by their two wonderful course instructors: Margot Livesey and Christopher Merrill. This course can be completed at whatever pace you prefer. Enrollment is free and open to people of all genders.
Margot Livesey is a University of Iowa Professor at the Iowa Writers' Workshop; she is the author of seven novels and one short-story collection. Her new novel Mercury
is forthcoming this fall.
Christopher Merrill is Director of the IWP and University of Iowa Professor of English; he has published six collections of poetry, five works of nonfiction, and many works of translation. His new work After the Fact: Scripts and Postscripts has just been published.
Click here to learn more and sign up!
Margot Livesey
Christopher Merrill

International Writing Program, University of Iowa

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