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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Monday, March 6, 2017

The Responsibilities Of The Novelist, And Other Literary Essays by Frank Norris (1903)


  1. The responsibiities of the novelist
  2. The true reward of the novelist 
  3. The novel with a "purpose" 
  4. Story-tellers vs. novelists 
  5. The need of a literary conscience 
  6. A neglected epic 
  7. The frontier gone at last 
  8. The great American novelist 
  9. New York as a literary centre 
  10. The American public and "popular" fiction 
  11. Child stories for adults 
  12. Newspaper criticisms and American fiction 
  13. Novelists to order-while you wait 
  14. The "nature" revival in literature 
  15. The mechanicis of fiction 
  16. Fiction writing as a business 
  17. The "volunteer manuscript" 
  18. Retail bookseller: literary dictator 
  19. An American school of fiction? 
  20. Novelists of the future 
  21. A plea for romantic fiction 
  22. A problem in fiction 
  23. Why women should write the best novels 
  24. Simplicity in art 
  25. Salt and sincerity 
  26. Bibliography, essays, articles, letters 
  27. Short stories 
  28. Poems published 
  29. Books published
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