Best of Summer Craft Advice for Writers

If there is a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, you must be the one to write it.

Toni Morrison, with the greatest reminder of all time

Why You Should Write About Your Characters at Work by Jason Allen
I’m not sure what this says about me as a person—hopefully it says I’m not capitalism’s biggest fan, because true—but I have the hardest time imagining my characters at work. Isn’t work the least interesting thing about a person? In my mind, a character under 25 works a restaurant gig. Older than 25, I blank. I give her a rich spouse, a dead parent’s estate, a divorce settlement. I know this isn’t right, and Allen’s essay was a gentle reminder not only to think about a character’s job, but to understand fundamentally how that career and every job prior has shaped that character.

The Power Paragraph by Candace Walsh
This analysis of Patricia Highsmith’s Carol (er, maybe I should say this analysis of one paragraph in Patricia Highsmith’s Carol) had me critically analyzing the merits and pitfalls of every paragraph I’ve ever written. It’s a delicious analysis: pages of thoughts on the movement and language of a single paragraph, the way, as Walsh puts it, a “paragraph can serve as a story’s fuse box, sending softly glowing, undulating, or hissing-hot power to different parts and levels of a story.”

On Learning to Use My Inner Cheerleader to Find Writerly Confidence by Liz Astrof
Have truly never related to anything more.

“So, instead of writing, I exercise, fill shopping carts online, eat about four pounds of candy, sign up for a new diet app because I have no discipline, and troll Instagram, where I eventually wind up in Ibiza, on a vacation with some couple I don’t even know, but really envy because they’re probably good at their jobs.”

Liz Astrof

How We Fictionalize Anger to Understand the World by Rachel DeWoskin
*leaves this here for anyone who struggles daily or hourly or secondly with their anger toward this political climate and wants to consider a productive and creative outlet*

On Revision by Lea Page
Watching my Words: A Writer Learns to Trim the Fat by Jonathan Arlan
These two essays look at different types of revision, specifically the story on a macro-level, as in Page’s piece, and on a micro-level. In the latter, Arlan explores taking a machete to his prose, hacking away at “any sentence with a comma in it. Then, [he] struck paragraphs that were looking at [him] funny. ” (I relate to this: Big enthusiast for slashing to-be verbs and adverbs.) In Page’s piece, she explores a familiar difficulty: “Because there’s story,” she writes, “and then there’s capital-S Story. It took working through several manuscript revisions before I understood the difference.”

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