Category Archives: Writing for readers

“Who shall tell what may be the effect of writing?”: On Audiences and Serendipity

Who shall tell what may be the effect of writing? (Middlemarch, Ch. XLI) One of the things I always emphasize to my students is the importance of considering your audience when you are writing. Knowing your intended audience settles a lot of questions about tone as well as style and content: formal or informal, colloquial […]

Francine Prose, Reading Like a Writer

This book has a simple premise–that the best way for aspiring writers to learn their craft is to read (closely, attentively, alertly, appreciatively) the work of other novelists. Prose proceeds to elaborate on what she sees as the pedagogical benefit of close reading by moving through a sequence of chapters addressing specific aspects of novel-writing, […]

Jane Smiley, Thirteen Ways of Looking at the Novel

Of the array of ‘books about books’ aimed at general audiences that I’ve read in the last few months, Thirteen Ways of Looking at the Novel is by far the most intelligent and engaging. Smiley writes as a novelist primarily, reflecting often on her own experiences and motivation as an author, but she also writes […]

Kermode, The Art of Telling

Today again, I have time only to post a couple of short excerpts from my current reading: Their [‘licensed practitioners’] right to practise is indicated by arbitrary signs, not only certificates, robes, and titles, but also professional jargons. The activities of such persons, whether diagnostic or exegetical, are privileged, and they have access to senses […]

The Occasion for Blogging

There has been a lot of public discussion recently about blogs in the context of the decline of book sections and book reviews in newspapers; much of it has consisted of attacks on literary blogs from more traditional writers and sources and defensive responses from bloggers (see, for instance, this response on The Reading Experience […]

Thoughts on This Project–and a Question for You

I began writing up my quick ‘notes on current reading’ about a year ago , partly for fun, partly as a way to answer questions from friends and family about what I’d been reading lately and what I’d thought about it, partly as an exercise in non-academic writing about books. I didn’t (couldn’t) take a […]

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