Reading to Write

Where have you been all my life? I don’t know how I missed you as I was wandering my way through my MFA. I don’t know why no one talked about you, not a teacher, a fellow student, or my next door neighbor. I once was lost, was blind, but now I’m found. Hallelujah!

From Chapter One:

“Imagine Milton enrolling in a graduate [creative writing] program for help with Paradise Lost,

Milton paradise.jpg

or Kafka enduring the [creative writing] seminar in which his classmates inform him that, frankly, they just don’t believe the part about the guy waking up one morning to find he’s a giant bug.”

“What would it say about me, my students, and the hours we’d spent in the classroom if I said that any attempt to teach the writing of fiction was a complete waste of time? Probably, I should just go ahead and admit that I’ve been committing criminal fraud.”

This, from writer/teacher Francine Prose, author of more than 15 works of fiction, including Blue Angel, a finalist for the National Book Award.

Thankfully for us, Ms. Prose decided to write a book titled: Reading Like a Writer: A Guide for People Who Love Books and for Those Who Want to Write Them.

The book is instructive, entertaining, and extremely insightful, with chapters that progress from words to sentences and on into paragraphs, narration, character, dialogue, and gestures. It concludes with a chapter on learning from the master–Chekhov–and a generous reading list.

Prose knows her prose. Read it and ponder. Read it and weep. Read it and get smarter about your own writing.

You’ll be glad you did.


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