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Pam Houston

One of my primary goals in writing Contents May Have Shifted was to make a book in which each of my sentences worked harder than they ever had before. I was brought up in the post-Raymond Carver school of compression, and I still believe the poets are the real wizards…

Josh Dudley

The best interviews come out of passion for the interviewee and their craft. You are providing a conduit for them to expand or reach their fan base, and the best way to do that is to be a fan yourself.

J.C. Lillis

If you catch yourself thinking your evolution as a writer depends on an obligatory descent into darkness, then stop that shit, ‘cause that’s the Gremlin talking.

Jennifer Kathleen Gibbons

What I’ve learned through writing about Suzie is that stories sometimes choose writers. If something interests you, you should write about it. I still believe this is true. For me, this was the story I had to write.

Rona Maynard

For a couple of months I’d been lost in the metaphorical woods with my writing. The prize, my second book, circled out of my view like a fleet-footed creature of the night.

Amy E. O'Neal

We are literary. We produce literary fiction for literary people. That is why it’s paramount that we expose ourselves and our work to the same ruthless mockery as the saddest of Z-grade films.

Gina Tron

Are you going to write about every trauma in your life? No! Life is ridden with traumatic events. That’s part of living. But in some cases, writing about personal trauma is a powerful way to make a point.

Tierney Ray

I have never committed murder. Nor have I ever been at a murder scene with police, forensics, and medical examiners gathering evidence. But I know how to write that scene. So do you.

Rebecca Lawton

So it goes with writing and birding. You try to find a sapsucker, but stumble up on a tiny jewel of a hummingbird. You persist and strive despite a robin showing you the insanity of ignoring results.

Susan Browne

I had to find a way to diffuse these tense and often unbearable situations. One day while discussing a student’s poem, I blurted out, “Hey, the cake isn’t baked yet.”

Lisa Romeo

Any horse I made notes about, any horse for which I gathered stats and records, or any horse I got close to so as to describe him or her, was always seen in context of its human counterparts.

Ryan Kriger

Humor is just one of many tools in the writer’s toolbox, and funny for funny’s sake is nice, but if it doesn’t contribute to what you’re trying to accomplish…

Q Lindsey Barrett

That’s what you, dear writer, must do. Whether novel, short story, memoir, or essay, all prose openings must seduce your reader to keep reading, an increasingly difficult task in our world of constant distraction. You must make your reader fall in love.

Q Lindsey Barrett

As assistant fiction editor at Hunger Mountain I read a lot of fiction submissions, and sometimes writers ask what I’m looking for in a piece of fiction. The simple answer is that I’m looking to fall in love. We all feel this way, all the HM editors: we love to fall in love with your […]

Amy Souza

For me, a prompt makes creating new work easier and a deadline makes finishing possible. So I incorporated both when I created SPARK, a quarterly project for writers, artists, and musicians, who get ten days to create something new, using another person’s work as inspiration. I administer the project, but I also participate, and I use each round as an opportunity to play with process.

Robin Black

   INTRODUCTION1 Some years ago, toward the end of an hour-long class during which a group was workshopping one of my stories, someone in the room said, “I was just wondering, don’t these people ever run into anyone else? Don’t their waiters ever talk to them? Don’t they have any friends?” My notes from that […]

Christy Bailey

Prompts can be more than just a warm-up to the real writing; they can lead us to material in surprising ways. A dominant left brain can lead to over-thinking, playing it safe, and self-judging—all of which can block the creative right brain. Prompts help us loosen up and let go of control.

Uma Krishnaswami

Can we talk, not to be grandiose or anything, about truth? I don’t mean the kind of truth John Ruskin went on about in his architectural critiques, decrying flexible tracery as barbaric and making fearless leaps between such judgments and the virtue and enlightenment of man. Which pretty much, I would like to point out, […]

Kelly Barson

As writers, we spend a lot of time seeking the shy, elusive muse or avoiding the judgmental, overbearing inner critic. Julia Cameron, author of The Artist’s Way, calls her inner critic Nigel. She writes, “Like my Nigel, everyone’s critic has doubts, second thoughts, third thoughts. The critic analyzes everything to the point of extinction. Everything must always be groomed and manicured. Everything must measure up to some mysterious and elusive standard.”

Wendy Voorsanger

My novel is set in a time and place—1850’s west—that’s already solidly ingrained into the American consciousness as a mostly historically inaccurate and over-dramatized milieu. For three years, I spent enormous energy creating the historical details—believable characters, a rich sense of place, credible plot. All this realism came at a cost. My novel was missing […]

Annie Penfield
Annie Penfield

Rhythm is the foundation of good riding. Clint McCown told me, “The difference between bad writing and good writing is rhythm.” If I can control a horse’s rhythm, surely I can wrangle nouns and verbs.

Seth Abramson

I’ve found that many contemporary lyric poems—though certainly not all—make interwoven use of three distinct elements: image, narrative, and rhetoric. Sometimes I think of the interaction between and amongst these elements as representing a sine wave or sinusoid. A sine wave looks like a regularized horizon of hills and valleys: first a hill, then a […]

Erika Anderson

Persona is the mask writers wear in their novels, short stories, poems, essays and memoirs. It is the artfully crafted or created “self” on the page. Poet Ezra Pound defined persona as a literary stand-in for the author’s voice. It is not the actual self or author; real lives can rarely be contained within the margins.

Heather Sharfeddin

Why do I write? Considering the odds of publishing, we have all asked ourselves that question at one time or another. If we haven’t, we should. When I set out to write a novel some ten or more years ago, I had a grand vision in mind, in which I would hit the New York […]