Maggie Muses

“You have to write the story that you want to tell.” Maggie O’Farrell

Oh, the joys of being in a space full of book lovers and listening to an accomplished author muse about books and writing! This is exactly how I felt when I and my wonderful writing buddy Nancy had the chance to hear Maggie O’Farrell, author of the widely admired novel “Hamnet” and now, “The Marriage Portrait,” shares her thoughts on craft and character:

On where ideas come from: “Most ideas for novels tent to creep up on you…they’re quite shy….” “You have to write the book that you can’t not write—the one that insists on being written….” “The best book you write is always the one you can’t not write.”

On first drafts: The first draft is a very special experience. I think it has to be you on the page and a dialogue between you and your characters….” “I really believe in redrafting. I think of the first draft as raw material….” “I like to feel the shape of a novel while I’m in it…to be engaged in the draft to see what I want to say.”

On reading like a writer: “When I’m writing a novel, I don’t read other novels. At the end of [writing] a book, I read short stories or poetry”….”At an initial reading, I’m reading as a reader. If I really like it, I read as a writer. I take it apart like an engineer.”

On narrative flow: “I don’t like novels where the narrative is weighted down with the writer’s research.”

On others’ views: “It’s not really good for you to hear yourself explained….” “Not really good for you as a writer to spend any time analyzing how you’re received.”

On a character she brought to life: “[She was] was someone under loved and under noticed.”

Inspiring words from a gifted author. Bravo, Maggie—write on!

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About karinwritesdangerously

I am a writer and this is a motivational blog designed to help both writers and aspiring writers to push to the next level. Key themes are peak performance, passion, overcoming writing roadblocks, juicing up your creativity, and the joys of writing.
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