Francine Prose begins by discussing the differences and similarities between writing fiction and nonfiction, which are not always what one might assume. She finds that both require obsessive attention to detail and clarity. Reading from her novel in progress, “A Changed Man,” she remarks that she has “about three hundred more drafts before it’s done.” Using excerpts from several different books, Prose illustrates how language shapes character and how information is transmitted while maintaining storytelling in both genres. She teaches close reading to aspiring writers, comparing it to surgeons looking at an appendectomy, and tries to illustrate how to transmit information through showing instead of telling. With humor and great insight, Prose touches on revisions, the sources of ideas, and teaching writing.
Francine Prose is the author of 20 works of fiction. Her 2000 novel, Blue Angel, was a finalist for the National Book Award, and her 2005 novel, “A Changed Man,” won the Dayton Literary Peace Prize. Her most recent works of nonfiction include the highly acclaimed “Anne Frank: The Book, The Life,” “The Afterlife,” and the New York Times best seller, “Reading Like a Writer.” The recipient of numerous grants and honors, including a Guggenheim and a Fulbright, a Director’s Fellow at the Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers at the New York Public Library, Prose is a former president of PEN American Center, and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.