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Non-Fiction for Fiction Writers: Irritable Hearts

Character and world-building: two essential skills for writers.  I’d submit that our invented characters and worlds are inevitably reflections of our real worlds and our understanding of ourselves and others. Some of that understanding comes hard-won and first-hand.  I learn through falling down. I also learn through shifting perspectives.  I need a sense of the wider context in which my own life sits, and I need it to believably write people who aren’t me. I also have trouble reading fiction when I’m working a lot on my own writing.  Something about the process, especially in the last couple of years, has made it very hard for me to get swept up in a novel the way I used to.  I get hung up on the craft of it, like having x-ray vision, seeing the skeleton too prominently beneath the skin. Non-fiction also has its tropes and conventions, but since it isn’t what I am writing, it’s easier for me to read it wholeheartedly.  And I’ve read a lot more of it in the past couple of years. So: this is going to be the first of a series of posts about amazing non-fiction that has expanded my understanding of people […]

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