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Bill Cotter Recommends...

Writers Recommend

Posted 4.09.14

"I’m not so much interested in things like plot and character and pacing and all that other literary nonsense, but rather the discrete quanta with which those things are built: Words. I like that the little music in a single word can, by its placement, or its very presence, beautify or corrupt the sentence that bears it; that the resulting sentence can test the truth of its paragraph, the paragraph of its page, the page of its chapter, and so on, until the success of an entire work seems to hinge on the single word by which the writer was originally seduced. Okay, maybe that’s a little melodramatic. But you see where I’m going with this. A punchy gem found in, say, a dictionary of eighteenth-century maritime slang can be as inspiring for me as the rhythms in The Waste Land can inspire other writers; a fun new word—something like 'mimp' or 'pourparlers'—can even pull me out of the oblivion of a long stretch of writer’s block, and make a blank sheet of paper seem no longer infinite and forbidding, but bright, open, and invitational."
Bill Cotter, author of The Parallel Apartments (McSweeney's Books, 2014)

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