Turn Your Writing Topsy-Turvy

In Jane Yolen’s Take Joy: A Writer’s Guide to Loving the Craft, she writes, “When we force ourselves to go topsy-turvy, we can see anew what is on the page,” (p. 49).She suggests taking a single chapter and re-reading the whole thing while changing the gender of the characters, or the point of view, or […]

Art has a shape.

“One thing that makes art different from life is that in art things have a shape; they have beginnings, middles, and endings. Whereas in life, things just drift along. In life, somebody has a cold, and you treat it as insignificant, and suddenly they die. Or they have a heart attack, and you are sodden […]

Good versus Talented

“Good writing is clear. Talented writing is energetic. Good writing avoids errors. Talented writing makes things happen in the reader’s mind—vividly, forcefully…” — Samuel R. Delany, About Writing: Seven Essays, Four Letters, & Five Interviews

Purposeful, Habitual, and Gratuitous

“As early as 1959 or ’60, I’d noticed that there was something terribly wrong with the female characters in most novels I was reading. Most of the writers (men and women) tended to conceive of their male characters as combinations of purposeful actions, habitual actions, and gratuitous actions. A female character, in contrast, would be […]

Black Wine opening

I really love the opening to Candas Jane Dorsey’s Black Wine (1997). # There’s a scarred, twisted old madwoman in a cage in the courtyard. The nurse throws a crust at her as he passes, therefore so does the girl. Others bring a can of water, or a trencher of meat cut up small, to […]