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Cultivating the Fearless Writer, On and Off the Page

Please welcome today’s guest: longtime community member and friend Thomas Pope! Tom’s third novel, IMPERFECT BURIALS, releases today. The story, about an American journalist who exposes a 50-year-old war crime that then imperils his life and leaves him without a country, was hailed as “sharp,” “clever,” and “rich with historical intrigue” by New York...

Juneteenth

Writer Unboxed will pause today to recognize Juneteenth, which has just been named a national holiday in the United States. Juneteenth (short for “June Nineteenth”) marks the day when federal troops arrived in Galveston, Texas in 1865 to take control of the state and ensure that all enslaved people be freed. The troops’ arrival came a full two and...

On Not Letting Ambition Take Over

When I was young, writing didn’t feel mysterious or difficult. I wasn’t curious about other writers’ processes, or searching for the “best” way to develop a story. Writing was just putting pen to paper and seeing what came out. It was a way to pass the time contentedly. It was a way to explore my own mind — what I was curious about, what I remembered,...

Flog a Pro: Would You Pay to Turn the First Page of this Bestseller?

Today’s flogging is the 100th Flog a Pro post. Trained by reading hundreds of submissions, editors and agents often make their read/not-read decision on the first page. In a customarily formatted book manuscript with chapters starting about 1/3 of the way down the page (double-spaced, 1-inch margins, 12-point type), there are 16 or 17 lines on the...

Pausing at the Border of Fiction

Sometimes I read a passage that gives such perfect voice to what I’ve been feeling that I have one of those disembodied jolts—as if the words on the page are more me than words I’ve actually written. That was how I felt when I read this passage in the New York Times on the subject of “autofiction,” the fuzzy edge between fiction and autobiography....

Managing a Motif

Flickr Creative Commons: Florence Bouche “Beneath the whole story, the subtle, imaginative reader may perhaps find a pregnant allegory, intended to illustrate the mystery of human life.”  1852 review of Moby Dick I’m a big fan of walling off your fictional world from anything that doesn’t arise from the story itself.  Anything that might call readers’...

Book PR and Marketing Questions Answered Part III

So I went to see Lady Boss: The Jackie Collins story at TRIBECA Film Festival the other night, and  Jackie’s daughters discussed how their mum and the late actor Roger Moore (James Bond) would send funny fax messages back and forth to each other. I found this greatly amusing. If only I had a fax machine to fire up. If only there were people left with...

Take 5 with Matthew Norman: All Together Now

We’re thrilled to bring you a Take Five interview with multi-published author and WU contributor Matthew Norman! Matthew has written four novels, including his latest–ALL TOGETHER NOW–which releases in just two days.  Matthew lives with his wife and two daughters in Baltimore, Maryland and holds an MFA from George Mason University. His first novel,...

On Murdering 22,000 Darlings, Part 2: Identifying the Dead

Last month I posted about how and why I cut 22,000 words (18% of the original text) from the manuscript I’m currently submitting to agents. That discussion was largely in general terms, and some of you wanted me to be more specific and clearer about what exactly I carved away. I’ve always found it hard to explain revision—what I change, why. So much...

Heighten Tension with a Watcher

photo adapted / Horia Varlan Back in grad school, I would sometimes choreograph for the college dance company in the living room of my apartment. I’d move the furniture and face its big windows, a natural orientation for someone used to dancing in front of a mirror. One day I was lost in the flow of the movement—crouching low, leaping high—when my...

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