On Becoming a Novelist Short Essay - Answer Key

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1. In Chapter 1, what does Gardner say the most common question of the aspiring writer is to him? What is the response?

Writers 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.

2. What does Gardner say in Chapter 1 regarding "verbal sensitivity?" What does this term mean?

A novelist must have "verbal sensitivity," which is an understanding how language works. Writing with a "tin ear" is hard, and teachers often miss this talent by insisting on "good English." Having good grades may indicate a writer has an ability to follow structural rules, but that doesn't mean he has a sense of dexterity or rhythm in language.

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