Happy Birthday, Francine Prose, born 1 April 1947.
- If we want to write, it makes sense to read—and to read like a writer. If we wanted to grow roses, we would want to visit rose gardens and try to see them the way that a rose gardener would.
- With so much reading ahead of you, the temptation might be to speed up. But in fact it’s essential to slow down and read every word. Because one important thing that can be learned by reading slowly is the seemingly obvious but oddly underappreciated fact that language is the medium we use in much the same way a composer uses notes, the way a painter uses paint. I realise it may seem obvious, but it’s surprising how easily we lose sight of the fact that words are the raw material out of which literature is crafted.
- Good writing should be grasped at once—in a second.
- I’ve always found that the better the book I’m reading, the smarter I feel, or, at least, the more able I am to imagine that I might, someday, become smarter.
- There are many occasions in literature in which telling is far more effective than showing.
- Read your work aloud, if you can, if you aren’t too embarrassed by the sound of your voice ringing out when you are alone in a room. Chances are that the sentence you can hardly pronounce without stumbling is a sentence that needs to be reworked to make it smoother and more fluent.
- What’s strange is how many beginning writers seem to think that grammar is irrelevant, or that they are somehow above or beyond this subject more fit for a schoolchild than the future author of great literature.
- Every page was once a blank page, just as every word that appears on it now was not always there, but instead reflects the final result of countless large and small deliberations.
- Like the one-sentence paragraph, the second-person point of view can also make us suspect that style is being used as a substitute for content.
Francine Prose is an American novelist, short story writer, essayist, and critic. She is the author of twenty-one works of fiction, including the New York Times bestseller Lovers at the Chameleon Club, Paris 1932 and Blue Angel, a finalist for the National Book Award. Her works of nonfiction include Anne Frank: The Book, The Life, The Afterlife, and the New York Times bestseller Reading Like a Writer. Her newest book is a collection of essays, What to Read and Why. She is a former president of PEN American Center and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
Source for screenshot: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Francine_Prose_at_the_2012_Brooklyn_Book_Festival_(cropped).jpg editrrix, CC BY-SA 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons
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