Learn About Fiction by Listening

One favorite resource that helps me learn more about writing fiction writing is the The New Yorker Fiction Podcast. It’s a free subscription that you can find by searching on “New Yorker: Fiction” in iTunes. (You can also access them through The New Yorker website.) I love it. Every month Deborah Treisman, the magazine’s fiction editor, asks an established author to choose a short story to first read during the Podcast and then discuss with her. Though I’m familiar with some stories, I’m not with all. And it’s wonderful to not only discover new stories but to also hear current writer’s talk about writing. Why they chose the story, how the story has affected them or influenced them, the choices the story’s writer made in terms of character, plot, language, etc. and then the emotional effects, the images, subtext, and all else that resulted from those choices.

It’s also interesting to hear audio of writers’ voices, both for how they spontaneously discuss the work and for how they read or “perform” the work. They’re obviously not actors but T.C. Boyle did a great punchy performance of “Bullet in the Brain” while Jhumpa Lahiri read William Trevor’s work in a less theatrical, more straightforward manner. Some writers read sort of somewhere in between.

Anyway, the other night I had to drive from Tucson to Phoenix to pick up my husband at the airport and being immersed in the art of fiction while driving in the dark for an hour was such an engaging, energizing use of my time, I had to share my joy for these podcasts. (Am I being Suzie Positive or what?)

By the way, if you know of other free fiction podcasts and would like to pass them on, please do share a comment. Thanks!

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