Make [your] characters want something right awayeven if its only a glass of water. Characters paralyzed by the meaninglessness of modern life still have to drink water from time to time. Kurt VonnegutThe cat sat on the mat is not the beginning of a story, but the cat sat on the dogs mat is. John Le CarrNothing is more inspiring for a beginning writer than listening to masters of the craft talk about the writing life. But if you cant get Vladimir Nabokov, Virginia Woolf, and Gabriel Garca Mrquez together at the Algonquin, The Modern Library Writers Workshop gives you the next best thing. Stephen Koch, former chair of Columbia Universitys graduate creative writing program, presents a unique guide to the craft of fiction. Along with his own lucid observations and commonsense techniques, he weaves together wisdom, advice, and inspiring commentary from some of our greatest writers. Taking you from the moment of inspiration (keep a notebook with you at all times), to writing a first draft (do it quickly! you can always revise later), to figuring out a plot (plot always serves the story, not vice versa), Koch is a benevolent mentor, glad to dispense sound advice when you need it most. The Modern Library Writers Workshop belongs on every writers shelf, to be picked up and pored over for those moments when the muse needs a little help finding her way.From the Trade Paperback edition.