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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Thursday, October 6, 2016

The Best of the World's Classics, Restricted to Prose, Vol. V (of X) - Great Britain and Ireland III: 1740-1881


James Boswell (Born in 1740, died in 1795.) 

I: Boswell"s Introduction to Johnson. 
   (From Boswell"s "Life of Johnson")
II: Johnson"s Audience with George III. 
    (From Boswell"s "Life of Johnson") 
III: The Meeting of Johnson and John Wilkes. 
     (From Boswell"s "Life of Johnson")
IV: Johnson"s Wedding-Day.
     (From Boswell"s "Life of Johnson") 

William Wordsworth (Born in 1770, died in 1850.) 

A Poet Defined. 
     (From the Preface to the second edition of "Lyrical Ballads") 

Sir Walter Scott (Born in 1771, died in 1832.) 

I: The Arrival of the Master of Ravenswood. 
   (From Chapter XXXIII of "The Bride of Lammermoor") 
II: The Death of Meg Merriles. 
   (From Chapter LV of "Guy Mannering") 
III: A Vision of Rob Roy. 
     (From Chapter XXIII of "Rob Roy") 
IV: Queen Elizabeth and Amy Robsart at Kenilworth. 
     (From "Kenilworth") 
V: The Illness and Death of Lady Scott. 
    (From Scott"s "Journal") 

Samuel Taylor Coleridge (Born in 1772, died in 1834.) 

I: Does Fortune Favor Fools? 
   (From "A Sailor"s Fortune") 
II: The Destiny of the United States. 
    (From the "Table Talk") 

Robert Southey (Born in 1774, died in 1843.) 

Nelson"s Death at Trafalgar. 
    (From the "Life of Nelson") 

Walter Savage Landor (Born in 1775, died in 1864.) 

I: The Death of Hofer 
II: Napoleon and Pericles 

Charles Lamb (Born in 1775, died in 1834.)

I: Dream Children A Reverie. 
   (From the "Essays of Elia") 
II: Poor Relations. 
   (From the "Essays of Elia") 
III: The Origin of Roast Pig. 
    (From the "Essays of Elia") 
IV: That We Should Rise with the Lark. 
    (From the "Essays of Elia") 

William Hazlitt (Born in 1778, died in 1830.) 

    (From the "Characters of Shakespeare"s Plays") 

Thomas de Quincey (Born in 1785, died in 1859.) 

I: Dreams of an Opium-Eater. 
   (From the "Confessions of an English Opium-Eater") 
II: Joan of Arc. 
    (From the "Biographical and Historical Essays") 
III: Charles Lamb. 
     (From the "Literary Reminiscences") 

Lord Byron 

I: Of His Mother"s Treatment of Him. 
   (A letter to his half-sister, Augusta) 
II: To His Wife after the Separation. 
    (A letter written in Italy) 
III: To Sir Walter Scott. 
     (A letter written in Italy) 
IV: Of Art and Nature as Poetical Subjects. 
     (From the "Reply to Bowles") 

Percy Bysshe Shelley 

I: In Defense of Poetry. 
   (From an essay written some time in 1820-21) 
II: The Baths of Caracalla. 
    (From a letter to Thomas Love Peacock) 
III: The ruins of Pompeii. 
     (A letter to Thomas Love Peacock) 

George Grote 

I: The Mutilation of the Hermæ.
   (From Chapter LVIII of the "History of Greece") 
II: If Alexander Had Lived. 
    (From Chapter XCIV of the "History of Greece") 

Thomas Carlyle 

I: Charlotte Corday. 
   (From the "History of the French Revolution") 
II: The Blessedness of Work. 
    (From "Past and Present") 
III: Cromwell. 
     (From "Heroes and Hero-Worship, and the Heroic in History") 
IV: In Praise of Those Who Toil. 
     (From "Sartor Resartus") 
V: The Certainty of Justice. 
    (From "Past and Present") 
VI: The Greatness of Scott. 
     (From the essay on Lockhart"s "Life of Scott") 
VII: Boswell and His Book. 
      (From the essay on Croker"s edition of Boswell) 
VIII: Might Burns Have Been Saved? 
       (From the essay on Burns) 

Lord Macaulay 

I: Puritans and Royalists. 
   (From the essay on Milton) 
II: Cromwell"s Army. 
    (From Chapter I of the "History of England") 
III: The Opening of the Trial of Warren Hastings. 
     (From the essay on Hastings) 
IV: The Gift of Athens to Man. 
     (From the essay on Mitford"s "History of Greece") 
V: The Pathos of Byron"s Life. 
     (From the essay on Moore"s "Life of Byron")

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Complete Index of "The Best of the World's Classics, Restricted to prose. Volumes (I - X)"

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