Word by Word

Practical insights for writers

For what it’s worth; it’s never too late from F. Scott Fitzgerald

For what it’s worth; it’s never too late, or in my case, too early to be whoever you want to be. There’s no time limit, stop whenever you want. You can change or stay the same, there are no rules to this thing. We can make the best or the worst of it. I hope […]

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Writing consoles

Rhythm, repetition, making patterns–these are not only important devices for shaping the strange and abstract instrument/object we call a poem or story, but they are craved as well because of our primordial need for reassurance, the sense of security we get from moving over the known. A mystery doesn’t lose power in revisiting. Writing is […]

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Adrienne Rich on Why Poetry Matters

Every year when April rolls around and the landscape is nodding with new, soft blooms National Poetry Month happens. I spend the month reading poems, starting my mornings with a poem I haven’t read before. Reading about poets’s lives I’ve newly discovered while searching out these poems, and jotting down small glories and discoveries in […]

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Take care with minor characters

If you’re going to have a character appear in a story long enough to sell a newspaper, he’d better be real enough that you can smell his breath. ~ Ford Maddox Ford Minor characters are too often faceless walk-ons in fiction. But that means the writer has missed a chance to  create reality and complexity. […]

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Joan Didion

“I’m not telling you to make the world better, because I don’t think that progress is necessarily part of the package. I’m just telling you to live in it. Not just to endure it, not just to suffer it, not just to pass through it, but to live in it. To look at it. To […]

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Gail Godwin on Characters

     The characters that I write are all parts of myself and I send them on little missions to find what I don’t know yet. ~ Gail Godwin

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The all-important sentence

Not all sentences end up in novels and stories. But novels and stories consist of nothing but. Sentences are the bricks as well as the mortar, the motor as well as the fuel. They are the cells, the individual stitches. Their nature is at once solitary and social. Sentences establish tone, and set the pace. […]

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Ted Hughes on the power of words

“Because it is occasionally possible, just for brief moments, to find the words that will unlock the doors of all those many mansions inside the head and express something – perhaps not much, just something – of the crush of information that presses in on us, from the way a crow flies over and the […]

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