Skip to main content

Back to School

Well, this week is back to school at Columbia, although I don’t personally have class until Thursday. I’m definitely ready to go back, to catch up with people I haven’t seen over the break and to get more guided instruction time with my writing.

This is kind of a transitional semester for me: I’m only taking one class, and the rest of my credit I’m getting through thesis hours and a manuscript consultation. I’m actually very excited about all of this. The class I’m taking is for our school literary anthology—as far as I know, it consists largely of reading student work and then arguing with my classmates about what should make the cut. I think it will be an interesting experience to be on the other end of the slush pile (although I’m assuming the caliber of work will be higher since all the pieces we read are submitted by professors) and to get a better idea of what kinds of things my fellow students are trying out in their work.

I did the manuscript consultation last year, with our visiting author Alexander Hemon, and once I got over my awe and intimidation (his novel, The Lazarus Project, blew me away), I found his advice really helpful. After meeting with him, I changed a chapter from what was turning out to be a soggy, directionless novel into a much-improved stand-alone short story. This year, our visiting writer is Gerard Woodward, a British novelist who has received many accolades for his work, and who I am equally intimidated and equally excited to meet and share my work with.

And finally, because I now have an official thesis advisor, the wonderful Alexis Pride, and because I am registered for thesis hours, I feel like this is the semester where my short story collection about high school teachers at a fictional Chicago school is going to finally take shape.

I’ll check back in on Friday and let you know how it all goes!

5 Tips on How To Write Fast—And Well!

5 Tips on How To Write Fast—And Well!

Who says your first drafts can’t be completed manuscripts? Author Kate Hewitt lays out 5 tips on how to write fast and well.

Shelley Burr: On Writing About Rage in Crime Fiction

Shelley Burr: On Writing About Rage in Crime Fiction

Author Shelley Burr discusses the less altruistic side of amateur sleuths in her debut crime novel, WAKE.

Sew vs. So vs. Sow (Grammar Rules)

Sew vs. So vs. Sow (Grammar Rules)

Let's look at the differences between sew, so, and sow with Grammar Rules from the Writer's Digest editors, including a few examples of correct usages.

Using Beats To Improve Dialogue and Action in Scenes

Using Beats To Improve Dialogue and Action in Scenes

For many writers, dialogue is one of the most difficult things to get right. Here, author and educator Audrey Wick shares how to use beats to improve dialogue and action in scenes.

Olesya Salnikova Gilmore: On Introducing Russian History to Fantasy Readers

Olesya Salnikova Gilmore: On Introducing Russian History to Fantasy Readers

Author Olesya Salnikova Gilmore discusses the changes her manuscript underwent throughout the writing process of her debut historical fantasy novel, The Witch and the Tsar.

Freelance Food Writing: How to Break Into the Industry

Freelance Food Writing: How to Break Into the Industry

Food writer Deanna Martinez-Bey shares her advice on breaking into the freelance food-writing industry, including finding your niche, pitching ideas, and more.

Plot Twist Story Prompts: Red Line Moment

Plot Twist Story Prompts: Red Line Moment

Every good story needs a nice (or not so nice) turn or two to keep it interesting. This week, have somebody cross your character's red line.

Hafizah Augustus Geter: On Confronting Complicated Questions When Writing Memoir

Hafizah Augustus Geter: On Confronting Complicated Questions When Writing Memoir

Award-winning writer Hafizah Augustus Geter discusses how her experience as a poet helped her take on her new memoir, The Black Period.

6 Ways To Collaborate With Other Writers Ahead of Your Book Launch

6 Ways To Collaborate With Other Writers Ahead of Your Book Launch

Writer Aileen Weintraub shares how to find your writing community in the process of launching your book.