If you want to read the article Alex mentions, I think you may have to get hold of the January 14th issue of the New Yorker from your local library if you’re not a subscriber. Sometimes you have to do things the old-fashioned way…

Fairfield Writer's Blog

CV1_TNY_01_14_13Mattotti.inddThis week’s issue of The New Yorker, dated Jan. 14, 2013 (right), arrived in the mail with a gift for all writers. Under the rubric “The Writing Life,” the great John McPhee has written a piece simply titled “Structure.”

You need to read it.

And that directive applies regardless of whether, like McPhee, you write nonfiction narrative journalism, or you write memoir, short stories, novels or some other form of prose. There is something in there for any writer who has ever struggled with how to organize a piece of writing—which means all of us.

I haven’t even finished the article yet. It is so dense with wise advice that I am purposely taking my time. But I wanted to let you know about it right away. Here is one excerpt, from many, that distills a fundamental challenge of structure clearly and brilliantly:

“Developing a structure is…

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