Like sex, reading is both a simple delight and a complex one, a nearly effortless pleasure that nonetheless rewards study and labor. Writing falls within the same general category--an activity that provides immediate booty and yet stands up to years of investigation.
Robert Boswell has been writing, reading, and teaching literature for over twenty years. His experience has taught him many pertinent--and unexpected--lessons about the workings of fiction. In this sparkling collection of essays, he shares his insights with wit, clarity, and intelligence.
Boswell urges writers not to know their characters--instead of compiling lists of characters' physical attributes and personal belongings, he suggests asking more provocative questions such as 'What did your character forget to do this morning? If you met your character in a bar, what would he think of you?' He highlights the successful strategies of such masters as Tolstoy, Flannery O'Connor, and Alice Munro, and muses on the uses of omniscience and the problems of the political novel.