Featured Writing Advice

On the Art of Fiction, According to Willa Cather

Willa Cather (1873-1947) was the consummate craftswoman of the written word. Her novels are known for their stark beauty and spare language, reflect her philosophy that writing is a craft to be honed and polished. Her considerable wisdom has been fully preserved, especially in the numerous interviews she granted despite her professed disdain for the press and with fame in general. Who better than Willa Cather to get advice on the art of writing fiction? Here’s an essay from 1920, with the kind of wisdom you’d expect to get from a master of the art:


By Willa Cather, originally published in The Borzoi, 1920:   One is sometimes asked about the “obstacles” that confront young writers who are trying to do good work. I should say the greatest obstacles that writers today have to get over, are the dazzling journalistic successes of twenty years ago, stories that surprised and delighted by their sharp photographic detail and that were really nothing more than lively pieces of reporting. The whole aim of that school of writing was novelty—never a very important thing in art. Read More→


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