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Off the Page: Writers Talk About Beginnings, Endings, and Everything In Between

Overview

A guide where today?s best writers reveal their secrets.
How do writers approach a new novel? Do they start with plot, character, or theme? A. S. Byatt starts with color. E. L. Doctorow begins with an image. In Off the Page, authors tell us how they work, giving insight into their writing process. Gathered from some of today?s best writers?Paul Auster, Martin Amis, Gish Jen, Dan Chaon, Alice McDermott, and many others interviewed on washingtonpost.com?s ?Off the Page? ...

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Off the Page: Writers Talk About Beginnings, Endings, and Everything In Between

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Overview

A guide where today’s best writers reveal their secrets.
How do writers approach a new novel? Do they start with plot, character, or theme? A. S. Byatt starts with color. E. L. Doctorow begins with an image. In Off the Page, authors tell us how they work, giving insight into their writing process. Gathered from some of today’s best writers—Paul Auster, Martin Amis, Gish Jen, Dan Chaon, Alice McDermott, and many others interviewed on washingtonpost.com’s “Off the Page” series—host Carole Burns has woven their wisdom into chapters illuminating to any writer or reader. How does place influence authors? How do they make a sex scene work? How do they tell when the work is done? Walter Mosley defying genre; Shirley Hazzard on love; Michael Cunningham on compassion: these and more from Richard Ford, Jhumpa Lahiri, and Charles Baxter will deepen your appreciation for the art of writing and excite you to try new ways of writing yourself.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal

Editor Burns started interviewing writers in October 2003 for the Washington Post's online literary chat sessions, Off the Page." Realizing she was collecting real gems led her to shape excerpts from the conversations into this book, in which popular contemporaries like Joyce Carol Oates, A.S. Byatt, Michael Cunningham, Gish Jen, Jhumpa Lahiri, Tobias Wolff, and Alice McDermott comment on various topics mostly relating to fiction. They discuss the ideas behind their stories, how their approaches to writing stories vs. novels differ, the revision process, how they determine when a work is complete, the influence of place, sources of inspiration, and more. In the final section, "Words of Wisdom," the interviewees provide advice to those on the path toward becoming writers. This is not a writing manual, yet it may provide insight and comfort to those who are struggling with their craft. A larger audience for the book includes readers who enjoy discovering the behind-the-scenes work of the writing life. Recommended for larger public libraries and academic libraries supporting writing programs. [The book has, in any case, inspired Burns: she is currently at work on her first novel.-Ed.]
—Stacy Russo

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780393330885
  • Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
  • Publication date: 12/10/2007
  • Pages: 234
  • Product dimensions: 5.60 (w) x 8.30 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Carole Burns is the host of “Off the Page” on washingtonpost.com. She has published in literary journals and is writing her first novel. She teaches at the University of Winchester and lives in England.

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Table of Contents


Preface     9
Introduction   Marie Arana     15
In the Beginning Was...(A) The Word, (B) A Bunch of Words, (C) Not a Single Damned Word     25
Haven't I Seen You Somewhere Before? How Characters Come to Life     36
What's It All About? The Ideas Behind the Stories     49
Truth or Dare? Changing Facts to Make a Story More Real     61
Home Is Where the Art Is: How Writers Are Influenced by Place     75
All That Jazz: Playing with Language and Style to Suit the Story     87
The Long and Short of It: The Differences Between Writing Novels and Writing Short Stories     100
Lovers and Other Strangers: Sex and Love in Literature     110
If at First You Don't Succeed...Revise, Revise Again     123
Are We There Yet? Knowing When a Novel or Story Is Finished     134
The Writing Life: Springs of Hope, Winters of Despair     145
Musing About the Muse: How Writers Find Inspiration When It Doesn't Find Them     158
Who Reads This Stuff? How Writers Think About Audience-and Reviewers     167
Good Writers Borrow, Great Writers Steal: The Writers Whom Writers Love, and Why     178
I Knew Him When...When Writers Realized They Were Going to Be Writers     193
Words of Wisdom: What Writers Wish Someone Had Told Them     204
Authors' Biographies     215
Acknowledgments     233
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