With eyes wide open

Thursday, June 17, 2021

We’re blogging this week about writing advice, and my favorite piece of wisdom is an oldie but a goodie, and is something I’ve applied both to my writing and my life: Be a person upon whom nothing is lost.  This is paraphrased from the venerable Henry James, seen here looking like a big old bag of fun: The longer quote, published in his essay, “The Art of Fiction” in 1884,…

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Back to the future: Misadventures in exposition

Thursday, May 27, 2021

If you’re thinking of writing a novel and wondering where to start your story, a good rule of thumb is: Start as close to the end as possible.  There are many reasons for this, among them that your story should be focused and not meander, readers have short attention spans, and 1000 page sprawling Tolstoyian dramas are unlikely to become bestsellers. But often, we don’t know where the end is….

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The Purge! (or, Getting that first draft out of your system)

Thursday, May 6, 2021

Ernest Hemingway famously said all first drafts are garbage, except he used a way more *effluent* term instead of garbage. This is something that I’ve, at various times, thought was completely true, completely false, and now believe is somewhere in the middle. First drafts are your best effort at the time, and I hate to say anyone’s best effort at the time is no good. I’ve also read lots of…

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Celebrating the small stuff

Thursday, January 28, 2021

It feels a little funny to be writing about milestones and celebrations before my book comes out. It almost sounds like the kind of article I’d write 30 years from now, when I’ve got a shelf full of bestsellers, a trophy case jammed with awards, and a desk built to look like my celebrated novels. What’s that last thing, you ask? I’m sorry, has no one shown you what Danielle…

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I left my heart in Corpus Christi

Thursday, January 14, 2021

My fellow Debs and I are blogging this week about our favorite types of scenes to write, and it made me think of something George Saunders said once about how you should always write into your strengths. Saunders claims he’s not great at plot (methinks he’s being a touch humble), and so when he writes, he emphasizes his characters, or setting, or whatever, in order to make up for the…

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Finding Your People: A guide for new writers

Thursday, November 19, 2020

A funny consequence of having a book coming out is that friends and family (and the occasional stranger on the internet) now come to me for advice on writing and publishing. It’s weird to give advice because I feel like I’m still learning these things myself. I don’t have an MFA – I literally just learned about the concept of negative capability this summer!     But when I’m asked…

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The Jackhammer in the Basement: On writing (or not writing) through distractions

Thursday, October 29, 2020

“It’s a black fly in your chardonnay. It’s a death row pardon two minutes too late.” Alanis Morissette was kind enough to give us many definitions of irony in 1995, and to those I would like to add, “It’s a jackhammer in your basement when you’re trying to write a blog post about writing through distractions.” We’re getting our house earthquake-retrofitted — a project that was initially supposed to take…

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World Building in the Real World

Thursday, October 8, 2020

When writers talk about “world building” they mean more than just setting. Setting is where a story takes place. But a fictional world is setting, history, the special rules of that particular place, the people who inhabit that world, as well as the general tone or atmosphere that sort of floats over every page. The setting of the Harry Potter books is England, but in order to build her fictional…

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My path to publication: A comedy of failures

Thursday, September 10, 2020

I wrote last week about how I hadn’t planned on becoming a writer, and how writing was something I came to after being unemployed for a long time. So already my path to publication was a little longer and had more forking paths than some people. I completed the rough draft of my novel in about six months in 2011, and I spent the next four years first learning how…

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Interview with Author Sarah DiGregorio (and Book Giveaway!)

As someone who dealt with many complications getting pregnant, I was excited to talk to Sarah DiGregorio, who writes about premature birth in her book  EARLY: An Intimate History of Premature Birth and What It Teaches Us About Being Human (Harper). In this reported memoir, the freelance journalist, who covers both healthcare and food for many publications (including The New York Times, The Washington Post, Slate, The Wall Street Journal, and Catapult)…

Saturday, March 21, 2020
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