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Browsing the shelves of a hushed private library recently, I came across a small book, Essays on Modern Novelists, by William Lyon Phelps. The author's name rang a faint bell, so I took the book down, blew off decades of dust, opened its stiff brown covers, and flipped through its yellowed pages, many of them still uncut.  Continue reading...
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You and I want to be good writers, but what will make our writing good? Inspiration, perspiration, determination, and endless revision — all fine answers, but the biggest answer is: good writing captures life.  Continue reading...
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Day after day of 90+ degree heat seems to melt our brains into neuronic mushes far too soggy for heavy reading, and we become capable only of lazing through lighter-than-air fare. A memorable New Yorker cartoon tells the story: a stern cop, looming over a sunbather reading Crime and Punishment, says, "I'm sorry, sir, but Dostoyevsky is not considered summer reading."  Continue reading...
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"All men are created equal." This sentence stands among the most powerful five words penned since Biblical times. America's founders declared the sentence a "self-evident truth," and for two hundred and thirty-seven years it has been both the rock on which the nation's democracy has stood firm, and a lightning flash that has inspired rebels everywhere to fight against the lies of tyrants.  Continue reading...
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"He's a real nowhere man, living in a nowhere land..."
—Lennon-McCartney

That's a great lyric in a great song, but I don't recommend describing nowhere people and places as a goal for struggling writers.  Continue reading...
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No other novel is more worldly than HonorĂ© de Balzac's Lost Illusions, delighting us with courtesans and countesses, misers and millionaires. Yet no other novel is more word-y, more focused on the art and business of writing.  Continue reading...
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"Writing about music is like dancing about architecture." This enigmatic sentence has been bouncing around the literate world for thirty-plus years. Many attribute it to the cerebral comedian Martin Mull, but its origins, like those of many such catch phrases, remain misty.  Continue reading...
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1 2 3 4 5 Displaying 15-21 of 63 Articles