Archives For Fiction

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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8 Writing Tips from Paulo Coelho

On Confidence
You cannot sell your next book by underrating your book that was just published. Be proud of what you have.

On Trust
Trust your reader, don’t try to describe things. Give a hint and they will fulfill this hint with their own imagination.

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The 1980s are often referred to as the decade taste forgot. We started wondering whether this adage applied to our reading habits? Here are the ten bestselling books in the United States for the year 1983*. Some of the titles have definitely stood the test of time, while others are starting to show their age (and their shoulder pads). 10. The Lonesome Gods by Louis L’Amour

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How to Mix Voices Like Annie Proulx

A guest post by Joe Bunting 

I was in Kenya when I found it. It was a loaner from a friend, a travel buddy. They couldn’t handle the slow plot, the terse sentences, the overall “literariness” of it. I borrowed it eagerly, reading it in between our jaunts out to the dusty streets lined with dark faces. I read it on a cheap foam mattress on the floor. I read it in our outside “living room” while drinking African chai—so good.

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