Tending the spiritual lives of writers & readers.

Praying Like a Novelist

The most well-known fiction-writing exercise comes from John Gardner’s The Art of Fiction, in which he asks us to describe a barn as seen by a man whose son has just been killed in a war—but without mentioning the son, war, or death. The goal is to inhabit a character so completely that you see how they see, and you bring to bear on your seeing their history and loves and losses. It’s a great practice. When I’ve used the exercise in classes, I add other scenarios as well: Now describe the barn as seen by a teenage girl who’s just developed her first crush. Now describe it as seen by a weary farmer who’s recently gone bankrupt. Now by a weary cow…

Fiction writing is an exercise in empathy, or perhaps a state beyond that—a thorough imagining our way into the lives of others. read more…

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Second Friday spiritual memoir drop-in series:

5/11: Dialogue
6/8: Adding by Subtraction

June 5, 2018, 7:00-9:30pm: Author’s Circle Reading at 2615 Park Ave S, Minneapolis, MN 55407.

September 24-28, 2018:  Living Revision: A Writer’s Craft as Spiritual Practice retreat at Madeline Island School of the Arts.

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