CategoryWriting

The Backstory On First Chapters

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Here’s the backstory on the first chapters of novels posted on this site: My literary agent sold STASH to Random House in a two-book contract, the second book turning out to be CLEAN BREAK.  After years of writing and rejection, I had made it as a novelist with a major publishing house. Everyone was excited about STASH. The publisher at the novel’s imprint, Broadway Books, said it was...

“You Only Live Twice”

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I corkscrewed down the research rabbit hole today. I got interested in stories of people who faked their own death — the whys and hows of it — and I came across an interview with an expert in faking death, Elizabeth Greenwood, who wrote a book titled “Playing Dead: A Journey Through the World of Death Fraud.” This book is now on my to-read list. Turns out that lots of...

Writing in the Time of Covid-19

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Writers shouldn’t rush to put out a Covid-19 book, according to Sloane Crosby in her recent New York Times essay. Even though every writer in the world is seeing the world through a virus lens at this moment. Even though we’re all sentenced to our desks. Even though we can’t concentrate on writing anything else. At least Crosby understood the irony of her own writing about what...

My Brilliant Career

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People sometimes ask me how I became a writer. The path was anything but straightforward. I didn’t start out wanting to be a writer, but I gradually veered in that direction, bumping a few guardrails along the way. Here is a list of all my paying jobs (unless I’ve forgotten some). Does this constitute a career? One definition of career is “a person’s progress or general...

Quest for Fire

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About the only thing I remember from Tom Wolfe’s novel, “A Man in Full” (the much less successful followup to “Bonfire of the Vanities”), was a character who said that when he wanted to make a fire he started with a tree. I liked that. In many ways, I’m like that. Sure, I have a nice fireplace where all I need to do is arrange newspaper, kindling, and firewood...

THE CULLING: A Snippet From the Novel

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The first time I read Shirley Jackson’s famous short story “The Lottery” I had known nothing of its reputation. As I read, the dread built in me slowly, the reveal astounded me, and the memory was blazed in me. I will never forget the power and audacity of that story. Here’s the original story, published in 1948 in the New Yorker. “The Lottery” helped inspire...

Appropriation and AMERICAN DIRT

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The fervor over AMERICAN DIRT continues to flame on. I wrote an early review of the novel, which I enjoyed, but found problematic, and then I came across this takedown by the writer Myriam Gurba, who scorched both the book and its author, Jeanine Cummins. Here’s a quote from Gurba’s review: Cummins plops overly-ripe Mexican stereotypes, among them the Latin lover, the suffering...

What to Write Next?

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I’ve handed my novel THE SUITOR over to a trusted reader. I spent most of the past year writing little else. I wrote some posts on this blog. I scribbled a note or two on stray ideas. But the vast majority of my writing time was devoted to THE SUITOR. Now I’m waiting. With waiting comes new and unstructured writing time. My first thought is always what novel I’m going to write...

This is Called Doubt

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I started thinking about the novel and got anxious that the characters are stupid and unappealing, or stock, or boring. They are duds and the story is a dud and the language is ugly and the writing forced.  The voice is wrought or annoying or soundless. The plot is vapid. The pace dull. This is called doubt. Crushing, debilitating, self-loathing doubt. I take full responsibility. I am...

Pitching a Novel in 250 Words

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I’m getting near the end of my novel, THE SUITOR. Now comes one of the hardest parts: writing a pitch for it that will attract agents, editors, and readers. You write a book that runs around 100,000 words and then you have to explain its essence and build excitement in about 250 words. It’s kind of a sucky task, but writing a good pitch helps: Crystalize for me what the novel is...

Today in a Cemetery

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I visited Lee, Massachusetts today and found myself in the Fairmount Cemetery. It’s an old graveyard, with sections of leaning, faded granite slabs, many greened with lichen. Names and dates you’d need a rubbing to read. Other, newer sections were populated with obelisks and polished slabs. I walked among the gravestones and the air was cold and occasionally the sun peeked out and I...

One Story Detail is Bogging Me Down

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I seldom write about a novel I’m writing. That’s too meta for me. I rarely talk to others about my work in progress–I end up contradicting myself and sounding confused. It’s usually best if I let my writing do the talking for me. Today is the exception. Work-in-progress is a novel called (for now) THE SUITOR. The story centers on three characters: recent college-grad and...

Which One is Better–the Book or the Movie?

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The dictum says the book is always better than the movie. Consider: you read a great novel, get absorbed in the fictional world, accompany the characters on their journeys. Your imagination creates every face, pictures every scene. You lose yourself for pages and pages. You loved the book. You hate the movie. Or, at best, the movie is okay. They did a pretty good job repurposing this incredible...

Working Title: THE SUITOR

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When I’m working on a novel or a story, I’m always unsettled until I decide upon the title. Before that, the narrative seems unfocused and lacks direction. I’m not fully in control or sure what I’m writing about. Not that finding the title solves those other writing issues–far from it. But the right title is essential. A strong title has a way of clarifying the story...

My Love for Pecha Kucha

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One advantage of living near colleges and universities is that innovative galleries such as the Opalka Gallery at Sage College host Pecha Kucha nights. Pecha Kucha is a unique presentation format: you get 20 slides, each slide stays on screen for 20 seconds and then automatically advances to the next. You get exactly 6:40 to present (20 slides x 20 sec/per = 400 seconds = 6 minutes 40 seconds)...

David Klein

Published novelist, creative writer, avid reader, discriminating screen watcher.

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