Back when the legendary author Kurt Vonnegut (Cat’s Cradle, Slaughterhouse-Five) was just an anthropology student at the University of Chicago, he produced a brilliant graph as his master’s thesis, a project that was ultimately rejected. The concept details how the protagonist of a story has ups and downs that can be pinpointed in a graph, revealing the shape of the story. As he explained in his autobiography Palm Sunday: An Autobiographical Collage, “stories have shapes which can be drawn on graph paper, and the shape of a given society’s stories is at least as interesting as the shape of its pots or spearheads.” Visual.ly adopted Vonnegut’s concept and created the striking graphic below.
In this Telegraph essay, British author and screenwriter Hanif Kureishi (Intimacy, The Body, The Last Word) argues that writers, by spending too much time on the safe questions of plot and dialogue, are missing the importance of digging deep into the imagination and the "useful trouble" it may offer.
Today marks Toni Morrison’s 83rd birthday, author of Beloved, Sula, and Song of Solomon. Last December, Morrison sat down with author Junot Diaz for a compelling conversation for Live from the New York Public Library. Celebrate Morrison’s birthday as she speaks about writing what you don’t know and how characters are like ghosts.
In this endearing animated video produced by Blank on Blank, the late children’s book author Maurice Sendak (Where the Wild Things Are) talks about not shying away from writing the barbaric in children’s books and how his uncensored family spurred his creative life.
“I’ve always had a deep respect for children and how they solve complex problems by themselves. [They survive] I think through shrewdness, fantasy and just plain strength. They want to survive.”
For more animated videos by Blank on Blank, click here.
The folks behind Thought Catalog have compiled a great roundup of quotes from acclaimed author Haruki Murakami (The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, Norwegian Wood, 1Q84, and so many more groundbreaking literary works). Be moved by some of Murakami’s words of wisdom including gems like:
Author Margaret Atwood (The Handmaid’s Tale, The Year of the Flood, and, her latest, MaddAdam) chats with Big Think about the difficulties of writing exposition. The author of speculative fiction breaks down what a writer should do when writing exposition with a goal of making the text appear seamless. Atwood also talks about her love of writing poetry and pushing against being pigeonholed as a fiction writer.
"The [hardest] parts of the novel are the parts when you know there are parts that the reader has to know but it’s not very interesting for you to write. Those are the parts that I don’t like. If you are competent enough, they won’t be able to tell which of those parts we are hoping the readers will not notice. We hope. We are always hoping.” – Margaret Atwood