Archives For Fiction

Rainbow Rowell Reflections on Writing Fangirl

Nebraskan author Rainbow Rowell was recently described by Flavorwire as ‘the next YA sensation adults need to know about’ . Her second novel, Eleanor and Park, was the Goodreads Best Young Adult Book of the Year, with Dreamworks buying the film rights earlier this year.
Rowell’s third novel Fangirl was written in 2011 as part of NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), the project that challenges writers to complete a 50,000 word novel in a single month. In 2013 she wrote the following inspirational letter other authors undertaking the month-long writing challenge.  

Dear Writer,

I was very skeptical about NaNoWriMo at first.

It seemed like something that amateur writers would do. Or young writers. People who needed to be tricked into finishing their books. I’d already written two books by October 2011, and sold them to publishers, and I couldn’t imagine writing either of them—or anything good—in a month.

That’s not writing, I thought, that’s just piling up words.

But then I thought about how wonderful it would be to have a pile of 50,000 words…

Maybe some writers enjoy the first draft—the part of the writing process when anything is possible, and you’re out there forging your own path. I hate that part. All I can think about when I’m starting a book are all the words I haven’t written yet. I actually feel them, hanging around my neck, tugging at me. First drafts always make me feel anxious and a little desperate—like, “Oh God, I just need to get all of this out and on paper, so that I have something to work with.”

I like having something to work with.

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How Writers Write Fiction

In February of this year, the University of Iowa’s International Writing Program ran its first massive open online course (MOOC). The course, Every Atom: Walt Whitman’s Song of Myself, ran for six weeks with around 2000 students from around the world signing up. Starting on 27 September, interested word lovers can participate in the program’s latest MOOC – How Writers Write Fiction: Talks on Craft and Commitment.

The course will run until 8 November and intends to be an interactive study of the practice of creating writing. The program will be coordinated by Christopher Merrill, Director of the International Writing Program, and will feature a curated collection of talks created by fifty authors of poetry, fiction, nonfiction, and literary translation. This will be complemented by online discussions, writing assignments and practical workshops.

In the Daily Iowan Merrill explained that “Anybody who has access to the Internet has the chance to hear really superb writers, and artists, and thinkers talk about what they love, and I think that’s a great boon for the writing and educational enterprise.”

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Sherman Alexie Writing Tips

Sherman Alexie is the author of 24 books including Reservation Blues which received an American Book Award in 1996. His first young adult fiction novel, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, has sold over one million copies.  

In the September 2010 issue of Writer’s Digest magazine Alexie shared the following advice for writers.

1. Don’t Google search yourself. Continue Reading…

3 Writing Tips from Curtis Sittenfeld

Curtis Sittenfeld is the bestselling author of four novels: PrepThe Man of My Dreams,  American Wife and Sisterland. In an article in The Guardian last week, published in the wake of the controversy caused by Hanif Kureishi’s assertion that creative writing courses are ‘a waste of time’, Sittenfeld (herself an experienced creative writing teacher) shared the following very practical advice for writers.

1. Establish a writing schedule ahead of time for the coming week or month.

This is more important the less time you have. If you work full-time, you might plan to write for an hour at 6am on Tuesday and Thursday, or at 4pm on Wednesday and Saturday. Write this commitment down in your diary or calendar, don’t schedule anything that conflicts with it, and sit alone somewhere you can focus when the time comes. It’s OK if you don’t produce sentences during that time, but don’t do anything else – don’t check email, don’t text, don’t go online (and for heaven’s sake, if you’re using a computer, shut all files and windows except for the one you’re working on). If some nagging errand you need to do occurs to you, write it down, but don’t start doing it.

2. Create an outline. 

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Why is J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy so compelling? How about The Matrix or Harry Potter? What makes these disparate worlds come alive are clear, consistent rules for how people, societies – and even the laws of physics – function in these fictional universes?

In this animated video from TED-Ed’s Writer’s Workshop, author Kate Messner shares the methods and questions she uses to build the worlds in which her books take place.

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Books from a series, fiction for a youth audience and titles with religious themes were popular with readers in the United States last year. Here are the ten bestselling books in USA for 2013:

10. Happy, Happy, Happy by Phil Robertson

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“It’s very difficult to do happiness in novels in a sustained way.”

In this video recorded by the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art earlier this year, Ian McEwan reflects on making romantic love work in fiction, the amazing evolution of the novel as a genre, and the mature writer as a toddler of old age.

Ian McEwan has been nominated for the Man Booker Prize six times, winning the prize in 1998 for Amsterdam. His most recent novel, Sweet Tooth, was published in 2012.

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