CategoryWriting

GET WHAT YOU WANT

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1. It is an early autumn afternoon, the leaves just beginning their brilliant decline. Twice when a cloud passes overhead she puts on her sweater, only to take it off when the sun comes back out. The pale blue cardigan slips easily on and off her narrow shoulders. The cemetery is old and large enough that here, deep within the borders and down an easy slope among elms and maples and rows of...

Latest Novel Now With Agent

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I’ve submitted my latest novel, THE SUITOR, to my agent, after we’d gone back and forth on some edits. The story centers on three characters: recent college-grad and law-school-bound Anna; the ambitious and scheming Kyle, who loves her; and Anna’s father, Art, who doesn’t like the idea of Anna and Kyle together. Read the first chapter. I’ve got another shot with this...

THE SUITOR Has My Attention

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I’ve posted less these last few weeks because my attention is occupied elsewhere. One focus of attention has been finishing my novel, THE SUITOR. I’ve gone back and forth with my agent on some potential changes that might clarify, crystallize, and strengthen the story. I’ve spent hours each day writing and rewriting, trying to solve those nagging problems of narrative and...

My First Novel Was a Disaster

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I’m on page 38 of 327 pages of a novel I’m reading and I want to put it down. I’m uncomfortable reading. Anxiety is building in me. Anguish weighs me down. Even shame. And yet — I also experience a sense of wonder. The novel is called THE PETTING ZOO, and it’s the first novel I wrote, 30 years ago. I came across the manuscript — wasn’t sure I still had it...

I Must Kill My Darlings

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William Faulkner said, “In writing, you must kill all your darlings.” What does this mean? It’s a common piece of advice for writers who must cut sentences, scenes, characters, even entire plots because they no longer work within the story world. They might be beautifully written. You might love them. Still, they must be axed. I’m doing some darling murder these days as I...

4/20 is a Special Day

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April 20 (4/20) is weed day. The day got its name in the 1970s in California when a group of high school students met after school around 4:20 to get high and 4/20 became a code phrase they could use in front of their parents. Its reputation spread from there. 420 Magazine, founded in 1993, has a mission around creating cannabis awareness. I hadn’t heard of the magazine until its editor...

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...

David Klein

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

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