You know how in that ground-breaking work of narrative fiction called The Great American Desert there’s all that talk about how the Piasa Bird has been moved, over the years, to various places up and down the river? Well, the peregrinations fowl has flown again. Not only that, but this time she’s been painted right […]

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That’s twenty-eight thousand, seven hundred and seven words, and that’s what the first draft of part one of the new novel has come to. It’s a relief to be able to say the draft is done, as it was moving really slowly there towards the end as the threads of the story were winding in […]

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It is now five days, I see, since my last entry. I’d like to say that that’s because I’ve been hard at work on the new novel, but the truth is that I’ve been distracted by another assignment. The good news is that I may have an agent for Desert. I’ve been sending it out […]

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In the past week I’ve gotten two virtually identical comments from readers of The Great American Desert: Beautiful writing, but where’s the plot? I may have it engraved on my headstone. What do people want anyway? An adventure story? There are lots of true adventure stories out there. There are history books, too, and biographies. […]

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Fictional characters are not the reliable servants people sometimes take them for. Not real characters, anyway. Not ones in character-based fiction. With the other kind, plot-based, they tend to get short-changed. They’re pushed around sometimes like chess pieces. But real characters need to walk around for a while, say and do and think about things […]

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One of the toughest things that people ask me on a regular basis is what The Great American Desert is about.  It’s a rather densely-packed ball of wax, so actually there are lots of answers I could give, none of which unfortunately are especially concise.  This is one of the reasons why I ask my […]

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A reader (who defined herself as ‘a young 83’) wrote to me last week to let me she was enjoying The Great American Desert, and when I asked her what it was about it that she enjoyed she replied as follows: Mostly I love the book because it is  ‘clean’. Call me old fashioned but […]

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William Faulkner is supposed to have remarked once that Earnest Hemingway had the distinction of never having used a word that sent a reader to the dictionary.  Hem’s reply, upon hearing of this, is alleged to have been, “Poor Faulkner.  He thinks you need big words to make big emotions.” A few of my own […]

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A distinct sameness has been pervading the stories the kids in my writing class are working on.  A sameness almost unrelieved, despite all our talk about visual writing, and looking at examples in books, by description of any sort.  Our mice live in featureless worlds.  They display only the most rudimentary hints of personality.  I’d […]

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It had been absolute donkey’s years since I’d read the 761pages of The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling, published in 1750 by Henry Fielding and frequently praised ever since for, among other things, the intricate structure of the plot.  I had thoroughly enjoyed it back when I’d read it in my 18th century novel […]

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