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BIBLIOGRIND

Adventures in Writing, Reading & Book Culture

A QUORA question…

Recently (or not so, but now I’ve re-found the forum) I came across an interesting question: WHAT ARE SOME GOOD WRITERS GROUPS TO JOIN ONLINE?

Firstly, I have some strong opinions about “learning to write fiction”, and even stronger about writers groups. Without getting into those bags of snakes, here is my answer to the above question:

You might find a writing group that helps you look further into your writing. That would be good. However, be aware that fellow writing group inmates may have the same “problems” or need help as much as yourself. Do you really want to take advice from people who likely — practically speaking — can’t write any better than you do at this point?

What you need, conversely, is a good mentor, or better yet, someone who knows books and how story works and what’s all inside character and narrative. A friend, a lover, an acquaintance? Maybe you can find this person within an online group. Wonderful.

Ultimately, however, you’re going to have to learn from the masters, those who’ve come before you, those whose proven craft of storytelling is obvious from the first sentence and doesn’t let up, won’t let you go, even long after you’ve completed the book.

For that I have a decent list you might begin with: Margaret Atwood, Richard Ford, Iris Murdoch, Mary Gaitskill, Saul Bellow, Nabokov, V.S. Naipaul, Paul Theroux and Alex Theroux. Read everything by Philip Roth. Read the Russians, the French; Goethe and Cervantes; Dickens and Henry James (he was more Brit than American). Read Edith Wharton. All of these authors provide a master-class in the techniques — and art — of writing fiction.

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My latest novel is “Max, the blind guy” from which you can read an excerpt here.

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