The Kite and the String: How to Write with Spontaneity and Control—and Live to Tell the Tale

Alice Mattison. Viking, $27 (256p) ISBN 978-0-525-42854-1
Mattison (When We Argued All Night), a writing professor and novelist, offers thoughtful, encouraging advice to beginners. The central metaphor of her title is that writing well requires both free-flowing, spontaneous thought (the kite) and common sense (the string). Moving from this sensible contention, she doles out guidance on crafting story, conjuring character, and keeping readers engaged, all peppered with examples taken from her own classroom as well as from the works of literary giants such as Mark Twain, George Eliot, and Tillie Olsen. Mattison pays particular attention to the difficulties women authors still face. She also opens space for discussing other types of diversity in writing, and there is plenty here that will be of enormous worth to budding novelists and memoirists of all genders, races, sexual orientations, and ages. Novice writers can do themselves (and us all) a favor by dipping into this practical primer. Agent: Zoë Pagnamenta, the Zoë Pagnamenta Agency. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 05/16/2016
Release date: 08/16/2016
Paperback - 256 pages - 978-0-14-311163-4
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