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Off the Page: Writers Talk About Beginnings, Endings, and Everything In Between Paperback – December 17, 2007

ISBN-13: 978-0393330885 ISBN-10: 0393330885 Edition: First Edition

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 231 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; First Edition edition (December 17, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393330885
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393330885
  • Product Dimensions: 0.6 x 0.1 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,961,790 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

As host of "Off the Page," a literary chat program on, Burns has interviewed more than 40 authors-from Pulitzer Prize winners Edward P. Jones and Richard Ford to newcomers Doreen Baingana and Hannah Tinti-and here she collects those Q&A moments "when I knew I was hearing something extraordinary," including A.S. Byatt noting that she sees her writing in blocks of color and Martin Amis referring to himself as a "yob." Burns organizes her bon mots into 16 highly readable chapters, each covering a different aspect of fiction writing: beginnings, characters, influences, language and style, novels vs. short stories, sex scenes, revision, fact vs. fiction, critics, muses and endings. Most authors speak eloquently, more like prose writing than casual conversation, with only an occasional dash of high-brow condescension. Readers will surely find familiar names among the 43 writers contributing, many of whom refer to their own best-loved works (though a dash of humility from the likes of Paul Auster-"I would never tell anyone to read my books"-is much appreciated). Author biographies, including each writer's own favorite quote about writing, round out this treat for avid readers and writers.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


A thoroughly enjoyable collection....Addictive reading for beginning to established writers or anyone interested in how writers think . -- Betsy Lerner, author of The Forest for the Trees: An Editor's Advice to Writers

Anyone who thinks all writers dip from the same stewpot should read Carole Burns' Off the Page. -- C. Michael Curtis, Senior Editor, The Atlantic Monthly

In a field crowded with dull and disappointing books, Off the Page is a joy to read and to re-read. -- John Dufresne , author of The Lie That Tells the Truth

It is fascinating and continually and delightfully surprising to open the book...and suddenly feel enlightened and inspired. -- Lee Gutkind, editor of Best Creative Nonfiction

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Format: Paperback
In 2003, Carole Burns began conducting a series of interviews with a variety of authors for the Washington Post's Web site. She later mined the best quotations for her collection, "Off the Page," an entertaining and thoughtful book that touches on "all the vital elements of fiction." Burns interviewed forty-three authors from Pulitzer Prize winners to first-timers, and she arranged their comments into thematic chapters. Some of the usual questions are addressed: What are your sources of inspiration? How did you come to be a writer? What is the importance of revision? What advice would you like to pass on to future generations of writers? In addition, the contributors weigh in on the differences between creating novels and short stories, how one knows when a novel is finished, what the author should keep in mind when inserting historical characters into works of fiction, and the role of sex and love in literature. The tone is delightfully informal, as if A. S. Byatt and Richard Ford were sitting in our living rooms chatting with us. The conversations include passages of lighthearted banter, touching revelations, and even profound wisdom.

This is an engaging compendium that can be read from beginning to end or dipped into at random. In these pages, the authors reveal a great deal about their methods, their artistic vision, and themselves as people. "Off the Page" is not a handbook, but an intriguing glimpse into the minds of novelists who have brought events, places, and characters to life through the power of their skill and imagination. "There is no magic formula, no set way to write a book.
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Format: Paperback
Off the Page: Writers Talk About Beginnings, Ending, and Everything in Between is an anthology of interviews with a diversity of authors describing the creation process of a literary work. Joyce Carol Oates begins and ends her writing process creating and reworking the beginning of a book; A.S. Byatt assembles a novel from "blocks of color"; and E.L. Doctorow crafts a story from a specific and compelling image that often springs to mind without context. From the intersection of sex, love, and literature (Martin Amis insists that good sex is impossible to write about!) to the reader's part in the creative process (or at least, the effect that readers' imagined reaction has on the mind of the author), Off the Page runs the gamut of influences and effects upon the evolution of a book. Originally typed directly on interviewer Carole Burns' computer as she listened to the interviewees and posted in real-time on the Web, Off the Page is undeniably authentic in his honest portrayal of the authors' mission to write literature worth reading.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By clark on April 28, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I found the book very insightful as to how writers approach the process of writing. It is easy to move from topic to topic. The information is encouraging for the new writer.
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