“The Modern Library Writer’s Workshop is a treasure trove of wisdom, both immensely practical and philosophical, entertaining and thought-provoking. Koch takes us inside the writing process, and it is impossible not to emerge transformed.”

—Joanna Hershon, author of Swimming

Combines the best advice from authors on writing

Nothing is more inspiring for a beginning writer than listening to masters of the craft talk about the writing life. But if you can’t get Vladimir Nabokov, Virginia Woolf, and Gabriel García Márquez together at the Algonquin, The Modern Library Writer’s Workshop gives you the next best thing. Stephen Koch, former chair of Columbia University’s graduate creative writing program, presents a unique guide to the craft of fiction. Along with his own lucid observations and commonsense techniques, he weaves together wisdom, advice, and inspiring commentary from some of our greatest writers. Taking you from the moment of inspiration (keep a notebook with you at all times), to writing a first draft (do it quickly! you can always revise later), to figuring out a plot (plot always serves the story, not vice versa), Koch is a benevolent mentor, glad to dispense sound advice when you need it most. The Modern Library Writer’s Workshop belongs on every writer’s shelf, to be picked up and pored over for those moments when the muse needs a little help finding her way.

A Note from the Author…

In the eighties, I began to teach in the graduate Writing Division of Columbia’s School of the Arts. Later, I added teaching in the Creative Writing Program at Princeton. Two great jobs. I worked with wonderfully talented youngsters, some of whom are now the literary luminaries of two generations. Teaching taught me a lot, and a lot of what it taught me is in this book.

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Quotes From The Modern Library Writer’s Workshop

“Since you have no choice but to begin in uncertainty, you must learn to tolerate uncertainty and, if possible, to turn it into excitement”

“The rightness of things is generally revealed in retrospect, and you’re unlikely to know in advance what is right and wrong in a story that has not yet been written.”

“Productivity is the only path to confidence.”

“Inspiration and confidence and conviction and craft and knowledge are not what make writing possible. It’s exactly the other way around. Writing makes them possible.”

“The most familiar of all advice on writing is the old classroom cliché ‘Write what you know.’ It is very much a cliché, and it is going to get rather rough treatment over the course of this book. Yet, like most clichés, it has the residual virtue of being a halftruth.”

“The only way to begin is to begin, and begin right now. If you like, begin the minute you finish reading this paragraph. For sure, begin before you finish reading this book. I have no doubt the day is coming when you will be wiser or better informed or more highly skilled than you are now, but you will never be more ready to begin writing than you are right this minute. The time has come.”

Praise for The Modern Library Writer’s Workshop

“Stephen Koch was my teacher long ago. Now he is everyone’s teacher, indelibly. This is a book not just for the beginning writer but for every writer.”

 

—Martha McPhee, author of the National Book Award nominee Gorgeous Lies

During the drafting of my first novel, I purchased this book because it was highly recommended. The book has so many nuggets of wisdom, but the most valuable information I gleaned had to do with the process of revision. As a first time novelist, I didn’t understand that with the completion of the first draft I’d only be about 10% finished with my book. Koch’s book prepared me mentally for the arduous rewriting and revision process that my book deserved. I highly recommend this book.”

 

—C.D. Scott

I have read many books on the craft [of writing] including Gardner’s classics, and I must say that Koch’s brilliant treatment of the craft sums it all up admirably while his use of quotes is very illuminating. If I had to settle for one and only one book on writing, this would be it.

 

—Amazon Review

Koch combines the best of writing advice from authors on writing. It spans the entire process of completing a narrative text, covering not just fiction but also memoir. It begins with the process of writing the very sketchiest of rough drafts and takes the writer to the final product of a completed story.It examines the elements that go into a good story, and how the writer excavates his or her story from all of the notes in the writer’s mind and assorted notebooks and pieces of paper. A great read that should lead to great writing.

 

—C. Matthew Hawkins

About Stephen Koch

Koch is the author of two novels and five books of nonfiction, ranging from history to literary history and a handbook on creative writing called The Modern Library Writer’s Workshop. His most recent book is Hitler’s Pawn – The Boy Assassin and the Holocaust  about the life of a Jewish teenager who in 1938 assassinated a minor German Diplomat and gave Hitler his pretext for Kristallnacht, and had worldwide repercussions in the lead up to the second World War. 

Koch has steadily written essays and reviews about literature, art, and the cultural scene. One of his books, Stargazer – The Life, World, and Films of Andy Warhol, is now regarded as a classic discussion of Warhol’s films, art and sensibility. Read More…

About Stephen Koch

Koch is the author of two novels and five books of nonfiction, ranging from history to literary history and a handbook on creative writing called The Modern Library Writer’s Workshop. His most recent book is Hitler’s Pawn – The Boy Assassin and the Holocaust  about the life of a Jewish teenager who in 1938 assassinated a minor German Diplomat and gave Hitler his pretext for Kristallnacht, and had worldwide repercussions in the lead up to the second World War. 

Koch has steadily written essays and reviews about literature, art, and the cultural scene. One of his books, Stargazer – The Life, World, and Films of Andy Warhol, is now regarded as a classic discussion of Warhol’s films, art and sensibility. Read More...

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