Category Archives: Quotations

Crime fiction

Consider this description of mystery fiction from John Lanchester’s “The Case of Agatha Christie” in the London Review of Books. Her career amounts to a systematic exploration of formal devices and narrative structures, all through a genre with strictly defined rules … Continue reading

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The point of poetry

From Kenneth Koch and Kate Farrell’s Sleeping on the Wing: Suppose you want to get an experience into words so that it is permanently there, as it would be in a painting—so that every time you read what you wrote, you reexperienced … Continue reading

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Influence

Influence isn’t just a matter of copying someone or learning his or her tricks. You get influenced by writers whose work gives you hints about your own abilities and inclinations. Being influenced is largely a process of self-discovery. What you … Continue reading

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How do writers read?

Here are some of the first few pages of Francine Prose’s Reading Like a Writer. They describe our approach to this class (English 412R, Fall 2017).

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The centrality of characterization

When people come together—let’s say they come to a little party or something—you always hear them discuss character. They will say this one has a bad character, this one has a good character, this one is a fool, this one … Continue reading

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Raymond Chandler on writing and revision

Throw up into your typewriter every morning. Clean up every afternoon. –Raymond Chandler  

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Tips on writing from Kurt Vonnegut

I noticed this at Lifehacker.com, though it’s easily found other places as well. In his book Bagombo Snuff Box: Uncollected Short Fiction, Vonnegut listed eight rules for writing a short story: Use the time of a total stranger in such a … Continue reading

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