word craft


Blog Posts from the Beginning

How many pages each day? 

Peter from Port­land, Ore­gon, wrote to ask me, “How many pages do you write a day?” Most (not all) writ­ers I know write every day. My own per­son­al goal is five pages a day. Some­times I do more. Some­times less. I have writ­ten a book (S.O.R Losers) in one twen­­­ty-four hour peri­od. The longest time it

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Waiting for the reviews 

This has become an impor­tant part of the busi­ness in recent years as starred reviews dri­ve book-buy­ing deci­sions. Sophi­a’s War has received two starred reviews: “Few his­tor­i­cal nov­els are as close­ly shaped by actu­al events as this one dur­ing the last 100 pages. Work­ing with­in the bounds of cred­i­bil­i­ty, Avi man­ages to keep the fictional

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What you leave out 

A writer friend recent­ly sent me an e‑mail. “What are you doing?” I said, “Push­ing the alpha­bet keys. You?” She replied, “Work­ing the delete key!” I sus­pect that the most impor­tant aspect of writ­ing is what’s not on the page. The white space. What you take out. Leave out. Cut. An edi­tor once told me it’s much

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Where do you get your ideas? 

The most com­mon ques­tion asked of authors is, “Where do you get your ideas?” Con­sid­er my newest book, Sophia’s War, a tale set in New York City (NYC) dur­ing the Amer­i­can Rev­o­lu­tion. I was born and raised in Brook­lyn (NYC), close to the site of the biggest bat­tle fought dur­ing the Amer­i­can Rev­o­lu­tion, the Battle

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Will there be a sequel? 

Isabelle, from Harp­er Woods, MI, writes, “I was won­der­ing if you’re going to make a sequel to The True Con­fes­sions of Char­lotte Doyle?”  In the years since the book was pub­lished I have been asked that ques­tion many times, even before sequels became pop­u­lar.  It seems to me that Charlotte’s sto­ry, among a num­ber of things,

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Commingling fact and fiction 

The most dif­fi­cult aspect of Sophia’s War is the com­min­gling of fact and fic­tion. The sto­ry of Bene­dict Arnold’s trea­son, and John André’s fate, is not just well known, it has been researched and detailed to an extra­or­di­nary degree. One of the books I used to research the event pro­vid­ed pho­tographs and descrip­tions of everywhere

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Making a movie 

Faria, of Val­ley Stream, NY, writes, “I real­ly like your book called The Fight­ing Ground. I think you should make a movie of it.” I get lots of let­ters from my read­ers telling me that they think I should make one of my books (one that they have read and enjoyed) into a movie.  I take

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The anatomy of mediocrity 

On a recent trip I took along two books. One was Charles Dick­ens’ Great Expec­ta­tions, the sec­ond a name­less con­tem­po­rary mys­tery by anoth­er British writer. Air­plane read­ing.   I had read Great Expec­ta­tions a few times. It is one of my very favorite nov­els, and is, in my opin­ion, one of the great­est nov­els ever written.

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When I get the first copy of a new book … 

From the time I first con­tem­plat­ed the sto­ry that would become Sophia’s War, and the moment when the pub­lished vol­ume came into my hands, it has been more than three years. By con­tract, I get some copies of the book, which usu­al­ly arrive about one month pri­or to the offi­cial pub­li­ca­tion date.  What do I do

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Books by their covers 

I was recent­ly talk­ing to a high­ly suc­cess­ful edi­tor, and she was telling me about the recent aes­thet­ic evo­lu­tion of book cov­er design. The essence is this: With the increase in sales of books on the inter­net, it has become impor­tant to design a book cov­er so that it can be read. Pre­vi­ous­ly, one saw

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