On Becoming a Novelist Chapter Abstracts for Teachers

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Chapter 1, The Writer's Nature, Pages 1-34

• All starting out to be a "dedicated, uncompromising artist" want to know if they have what it takes. Most often the answer is "God only knows."

• Anyone stubborn enough can get published and success breeds success, but building one's skills is more important than getting into print.

• First, a novelist must have "verbal sensitivity," understanding how language works.

• Clichés, careless, and showy language all break the "vivid and continuous dream state" that a novelist must create and sustain in a reader, removing the reader from his environment.

• Readers are jerked out of this state by authors who feel no attachment to the ordinary world, who refuse to tell a story or advance an argument, but simply revel in their own words.

• Contrast Shakespeare, whose language is always subservient to character and plot, with Dylan Thomas and Updike.

• Gardner studies writing in...

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