Happy Birthday, Jonathan Franzen, born 17 August 1959
- But the first lesson reading teaches is how to be alone.
- Fiction, I believed, was the transmutation of experiential dross into linguistic gold. Fiction meant taking up whatever the world had abandoned by the road and making something beautiful out of it.
- It’s just a matter of writing the kind of book I enjoy reading. Something better be happening at the beginning, and then on every page after, or I get irritated.
- I used to think it was hard to write, and I still find the process more or less unpleasant, but if I know what I’m doing it rattles along, then the rewrite whips it into shape rather quickly.
- More and more, I think of novel writing as a kind of deliberate dreaming.
Jonathan Franzen: On Writing - 10 Rules
- The reader is a friend, not an adversary, not a spectator.
- Fiction that isn’t an author’s personal adventure into the frightening or the unknown isn’t worth writing for anything but money.
- Never use the word “then” as a conjunction – we have “and” for this purpose. Substituting “then” is the lazy or tone-deaf writer’s non-solution to the problem of too many “ands” on the page.
- Write in the third person unless a really distinctive first-person voice offers itself irresistibly.
- When information becomes free and universally accessible, voluminous research for a novel is devalued along with it.
- The most purely autobiographical fiction requires pure invention. Nobody ever wrote a more autobiographical story than “The Metamorphosis”.
- You see more sitting still than chasing after.
- It’s doubtful that anyone with an internet connection at his workplace is writing good fiction.
- Interesting verbs are seldom very interesting.
- You have to love before you can be relentless.
Franzen is an American novelist and essayist. His novels include Freedom and The Corrections. Franzen writes for The New Yorker magazine.
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