Clips on Craft:

Writers Talk Writing
at The Center


Check out these short videos of authors discussing the craft of writing, featuring the advice of such creative minds as Megan Abbott, Christian Jungersen, Anita Shreve, Katy Simpson Smith, Michael Carroll, Alden Jones, and more! WATCH HERE


by Gabriel Roth


You start by thinking about all the things a novel should do: tell a compelling story, create vivid characters and reveal them in all their particularity, illuminate the human condition in general, reveal ordinary experience with a vividness that enables us to see the familiar world anew, open fresh possibilities for language... you can easily spend a whole afternoon just listing the requirements, and you should.


Then you divide the list into three categories. You can use a new sheet of paper with three columns, or you can just mark the first sheet with three symbols, like maybe an asterisk and a pound sign and a smiley face.


  1. Category One is “Things I Can Do.”
  2. Category Two is “Things I Can Maybe Do Without.”
  3. Category Three is “Things I Need to Learn.”

  4. And then you go down the Category Three list and set yourself assignments: Describe with startling freshness three things that happened to you today. Make flowcharts of the plots of six novels you admire. Write a scene in which two characters reveal all their hopes and weaknesses in eight lines of dialogue apiece. (I have completed all of these assignments, because description, plot, and dialogue were on my Category Three list.)




Apply to the 2015 Emerging Writers Fellowship Program



This grant is generously funded by a grant from the Jerome Foundation, matched by additional funds from individuals. Nine writers will be selected in 2015 for a one-year fellowship. Applications are due to by 11pm on January 31, 2015. READ MORE


by Terese Svoboda


You've got the words. They're swirling around in your head all day – all night for the more unfortunate among us. You've probably got an idea about what to do with those words, a story that's been sitting in your head for weeks or even months, and you're sure that whenever you access it, it will come forth, shining and beautiful. You're sure of this at your core or you'd jettison all those words, forget it, take up basket-weaving. No, the story is there. A cop filling out a ticket with a shadow behind him, a girl on a bike with an odd-shaped bundle, your parents hiding an envelope in a drawer you've got the key for.The not-quite-articulate surrounds this idea.... READ MORE







by Courtney Zoffness


It’s natural to remember your first attempts at fiction with a combination of wistfulness and shame. Sometimes I think about mine, an international, star-crossed love story that featured a man who dreamed in black and white and a woman who dreamed in color. I even remember one of the first sentences (blush): “She dreamed in orange and blue, of apricot beaches and cerulean seas.” This isn’t because I’m a sentimentalist. It’s because submitting this draft to a graduate school workshop yielded one of the most important editorial lessons in my writing life. Like most, I came to writing after falling in love with reading, and the books I admired early on were lyrical and imaginative—works by Zora Neale Hurston and Toni Morrison and Vladimir Nabokov. I carried their words around with me, little candies tucked into my cheeks. Hurston in Their Eyes Were Watching God: “She stood there until something fell off the shelf inside her. READ MORE


by Ann Packer


I’ve recently finished a novel—truly finished, as in it’s departed copyediting and headed for page proofs—and I find myself in a familiar no-man’s-land, the space between books that surprises me every time with its overlarge helpings of exhaustion and despair.  My book took a lot out of me; given the emptiness I now feel it seems that it took everything out of me, that all I am is a container for what goes into my fiction.  The container is empty; the well is dry.  I will write another book; I know this.  And while I wait for the next project to make itself known, I will gear up for this book’s publication. I’ll start thinking about the book in new ways:  as a story to tell (“How did you come up with the idea for this book?”), as a text to analyze (“Why do you think you had the youngest brother do what he does?”), and of course as a product to sell.... READ MORE


by Stefan Merrill Block


I didn’t discover serious graphic novels until my early twenties, and—as much as I enjoy them now—the form is freighted for me with envy and regret. I always wanted to be a writer, but the truth is that, as a kid, I wanted equally to be a visual artist. Graphic novels might have been a natural fit for me, if only my second career as an artist had not died of shame when I was thirteen.... 





Need a place to write?


Don't want to spend a fortune for your literary sanctuary? Our writing studio is located in a beautiful, sky-lit space on our top floor. It provides the perfect setting for writing. We even provide M&Ms!  Read more


News from our
Writers' Studio


Our Writers' Studio members have been busy upstairs, and we want to share some of their successes with you. Click here to find out about recently published works and awards.