Writer’s Toolbox

Author Q&A

Here we present our exclusive collection of Q&As with a long list of illustrious authors.

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Sol Stein

Sol SteinSol Stein is the author of novels and nonfiction books including Stein On Writing, How to Grow a Novel, and The Magician.

What is your method for overcoming writer’s block?

The easiest solution for writer's block is to open a good dictionary to any page and read slowly just the words, not the definitions, one at a time. Many writers I have taught find that this method works, a word kindles an idea that enables the writer to continue his or her work.

What are your favorite or most helpful writing prompts?

I go to a shelf in my library and pick out about ten paperbacks of novels whose beginnings are quite marvelous. One or more of these beginnings will light a fuse in my mind relating to the new story.

What is the most valuable advice you received as a young writer?

I took a course in college with a teacher who gave his students a private audience once a semester. He said to me, "Stein, your jacket is blue, your shirt is blue, your tie is blue, that's what wrong with your stories!" From that point on my stories and eventually my novels became "colorful" in every meaning of that word.