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NaNoWriMo Bonus Excerpts: "What About the Baby?"

A collection of essays, lectures, and observations on the art of writing fiction from Alice McDermott, winner of the National Book Award. Listen to an excerpt here. 

By
Alice McDermott
1-minute read

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What About the Baby? Some Thoughts on the Art of Fiction gathers the bestselling novelist Alice McDermott’s pithiest wisdom about her chosen art, acquired over a lifetime as an acclaimed writer and teacher of writing.

From technical advice (“check that your verbs aren’t burdened by unnecessary hads and woulds”) to setting the bar (“I expect the fiction I read to carry with it the conviction that it is written with no other incentive than that it must be written”), from the demands of readers (“they’d been given a story with a baby in it, and they damn well wanted that baby accounted for”) to the foibles of public life (“I’ve never subscribed to the notion that a film adaptation is the final imprimatur for a work of fiction, despite how often I’ve been told by encouraging friends and strangers, ‘Maybe they’ll make a movie of your novel,’ as if I’d been aiming for a screenplay all along but somehow missed the mark and wrote a novel by mistake”), McDermott muses trenchantly and delightfully about the craft of fiction.

About the Author

Alice McDermott

Alice McDermott is the author of several novels, including The Ninth Hour; Someone; After This; Child of My Heart; Charming Billy, winner of the 1998 National Book Award; and At Weddings and Wakes. That Night, At Weddings and Wakes, and After This were all finalists for the Pulitzer Prize. Her stories and essays have appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The New Yorker, Harper’s Magazine, and elsewhere. McDermott lives with her family outside Washington, D.C.