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The world utterly forgot the Roman poet-philosopher Titus Lucretius Carus and his masterwork, De Rerum Natura (On the Nature of Things). Then in January 1417 an adventuresome papal secretary found a 500-year-old copy on a dusty shelf in a German monastery, and De Rerum began a second illustrious life that continues, still blossoming, to this day.  Continue reading...
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What makes a good column? Like any piece of writing, a column needs a beginning, middle, and end — here starts the middle of this one. Beginning with a joke, as I did above, an intriguing question, or an outlandish statement may hook readers, but once you've got 'em hooked, you need to give 'em ideas worth listening to, or they'll quickly yawn and turn the page.  Continue reading...
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When beginning a story, a writer must decide, not only who will be in the story, what they'll do, and where and when they'll do it, but the point of view from which the story's people, places, and actions will be seen and described. Many options are available, and each one will make a big difference to how readers experience the story.  Continue reading...
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If, as a writer, you write long enough, well enough, and popularly enough, your manuscripts, drafts, notes, and letters may someday be gathered, sorted, catalogued, boxed, and stored deep in the bowels of a library archive, ready to be pored over, decades or centuries later, by scholars and biographers eager to learn how and why you wrote as you did.  Continue reading...
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In 1911 Pelham Grenville Wodehouse was a thirty-year-old British writer living both in England and America. His upper-crust background and boarding school education had given him a knack for turning out satires of high society. Yet Wodehouse hadn't found his voice as a writer: what he wanted to say and how he wanted to say it.  Continue reading...
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"Try reading books by your favorite writers in the order they were written, and you'll find the effects of time on each writer's spirit," says Michael Lydon, who considers how time shaped Leo Tolstoy into a mature prose stylist.  Continue reading...
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The single most valuable thing an aspiring writer can do to improve his or her work may be stated in three words: Read good books! Unfortunately, the statement begs the question, what makes a good book? The book you prize I may scorn; the book that thrills me may bore you.  Continue reading...
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1 2 3 4 5 Displaying 1-7 of 58 Articles