Suspend Your Disbelief

Posts Tagged ‘writing manuals’

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A Brief History of an Ongoing Series: a guest post by Peter Turchi

Editor’s note: As part of our focus on teaching this month, we’re delighted to present this guest post by Peter Turchi. Nearly twenty years ago, when I became director of the Warren Wilson College MFA Program for Writers, I moved into a small office that had been left neat and nearly empty by the previous director. Most of what he left behind were helpful files and books, but under the desk there was also a cardboard box filled with miscellaneous manuscripts, some stapled, some paper clipped, some typed, some covered with handwritten notes and corrections. Months passed before I asked […]


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Writers Writing About Writing: The Dirty Little Secret – a guest post by Richard Goodman

Editor’s note: As part of our focus on teaching this month, we’re delighted to present this guest post by Richard Goodman. When a writer publishes a book about writing, I’m often excited to read it.  Especially if it’s by a writer whom I admire.  He or she has been in the trenches, encountered problems and, more often than not, has solved them—or come near enough.  And he or she can write, which means it’s a pretty good bet the book will be readable.  So, I think: let’s hear what this writer has to say.  I want to learn, like we […]


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Janet Fitch's Rules for Writers

We’re writers! We’re creative souls! We love original thought! But for some reason, we also love lists of rules—especially rules that tell us how to write (and how not to write). Call it one of life’s great paradoxes. The most widely disseminated list is probably Elmore Leonard’s rather prescriptive catalogue of things to avoid (“Never use a verb other than ‘said’ to carry dialogue”). Many authors, before and since Leonard, have tried to boil their advice down into neat bullet points, with varying success. But Janet Fitch, author of White Oleander, has posted her own “10 Rules for Writers,” and […]


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The Case Against Writing Manuals

In The Atlantic‘s 2010 Fiction issue, Richard Bausch makes a powerful argument against writing manuals: Now, I’m not speaking about books dealing with the aesthetics of the task, or with essays about the craft and critical analysis of examples of it—and we have several very fine volumes in that vein (Charles Baxter’s Burning Down the House and John Gardner’s The Art of Fiction come to mind)—no, I’m talking about straight how-to books, most of which claimed to offer shortcut advice, practical instructions on “writing your say the genre,” and even in some cases “secrets” of the novelist’s or story writer’s […]



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