{Secret Library Podcast} Gary Wilson on Structuring a Novel

Gary Wilson | Secret Library Podcast | carolinedonahue.com

Gary Wilson has been writing fiction for decades.

He was the first person I thought of speaking to when people started asking me to talk about structure on the show. He’s the author of two novels and has also taught fiction at the University of Chicago and Johns Hopkins University. Gary is one of my favorite people and I was thrilled to have the excuse to chat books and writing with him. We go through how it is to structure a book, letting the idea inform how you write it, what it’s like to have one book interrupted by another story, revision, and his writing routine & the importance of “ass time” in writing.

For all of you who’ve had ideas but haven’t shaped them into books yet, this will be a great conversation to give you the lay of the land that’s coming. Think of this as a map- complete with some pitfalls you’ll be able to look out for along the way. I’m so thrilled that people asked for this conversation since I learned a lot from having it! Keep asking for topics in the comments and I’ll do my best to find the right guest to address them. Happy listening!

Listen up on iTunes | Getting Right | Sing, Ronnie Blue | Gary’s WebsiteFacebook

Show Notes for Episode 28 with Gary Wilson:

  • Structuring a novel with autobiographical elements (2:15) Mentioned: Sarah Selecky’s episode, Stephen Dixon
  • The interaction between memory and imagination (4:45)
  • The unreliable narrator (6:15)
  • Differing story arc structures (8:30)
  • Different types and roles of narrators (9:30)
  • Narrative voice in a novel (10:15)
  • Finding the voice when writing a novel (10:45) Mentioned: blog posts
  • When an image takes hold and won’t let go (12:00) Mentioned: Betty Boop
  • The evolution of the novel and blatant structure choices (14:00)
  • Conscious vs. unconscious choices in writing (15:00)
  • Writing from personal experience in fiction and the transformation that takes place (16:00)
  • The line between fiction and memoir (17:45)
  • Artistic and emotional components to writing (19:45)
  • Teaching memoir and fiction together (20:30)
  • Where it’s possible to get lost when writing fiction & staying true to the story (22:15)
  • The process of revision and the creative & critical hats (27:00)
  • The current project & tricky points (31:45)
  • The daily routine, discipline & saving a marriage (32:15) Mentioned: Marilynne Robinson | Joyce Carol Oates
  • Making progress (38:00)
  • On knowing the ending when beginning a novel (40:30)
  • Comedy or tragedy (41:30)
  • Finding subliminal themes once the book is written (41:45)

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