Free Within Ourselves: Fiction Lessons for Black Authors

Jewell Parker Rhodes
Published in 1999
by Main Street Books

“Words have power. If we don’t tell our own stories, then the historical ‘gaps,’ the ‘silences’ become ripe for someone else’s lies, distortions, half-truths,” writes Jewell Parker Rhodes in this guide to writing fiction which celebrates Black authors and storytelling. In each chapter, Rhodes offers a step-by-step introduction to the fundamentals of writing, including advice on how to begin a journaling practice and emotionally prepare before writing, the importance of reading, creating character and plot, and knowing when to stop revising. Rhodes fills the book with writing prompts and inspiring passages from authors such as Toni Cade Bambara, Randall Kenan, Zora Neale Hurston, and Alice Walker, illustrating what powerful and skilled writing looks like. There is also a reading list, writing resources, and a glossary of essential fictional terms in the last section of the book. Rhodes encourages writers to investigate, study, and keep going: “Good writers probe themselves and their world; good writers laugh and cry; good writers observe; good writers don’t just talk about writing, they write.”  


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