How To Write Like Tolstoy
A Journey into the Minds of Our Greatest Writers
From critically acclaimed author Richard Cohen comes an engrossing book about writing and how novelists do what they do. Informed by a career in publishing and a lifetime of reading, How To Write Like Tolstoy takes readers on a journey into the minds, techniques, concerns, tricks, flaws (and occasionally obsessions) of our greatest authors. How did Ernest Hemingway learn to take advice from Gertrude Stein? What made Norman Mailer change from first person to third? Why did Nabokov despise E.M. Forster? Which authors borrowed plots and characters from people they knew? Why did Turgenev so envy Tolstoy, and what does that say about how fiction writers create character? Why did Turgenev hate the way Tolstoy wrote so much? How did Dickens change the end of Great Expectations, and why? What did Nabokov think of writers who said their characters ‘took over’ their books? Which modern author said that it was now impossible to write sex scenes?
Evoking the marvelous, famous and scurrilous, Cohen reveals the stumbling blocks and challenges that even the greatest writers faced — and how they surmounted them. The result is a compulsively readable book filled with practical writing advice–what makes good prose, how to create it, and a lively account of the difficult lessons that even the greatest writers have had to learn.