The basic idea of the Secret Miracle is that 54 writers were asked questions about how they wrote. The questions and answers were grouped into 7 chapters:
1. Reading and Influences
2. Getting Started
3. Structure and Plot
4. Character and Scene
7. The End
The follwing are some of the questions:
What do you look for in a novel?
Has being a novelist changed the way you read novels? Has it changed the way that you appreciate or interact with art generally?
What was the trigger for your last novel?
Do you do any research before you begin writing? If so, do you find it helpful, or does it constrain your imagination?
How much do you know about the plot of a novel before you begin?
How polished do you try to make the prose in a first draft?
What is most distracting for you? How do you deal with it?
Do you write in sequence?
How do you get to know your characters?
When/how do you show a draft to your trusted readers?
What makes for a successful conclusion to a novel?
While it is obvious that this book is meant to be read by writers, it is also interesting as a general look into the creative process. The range of answers and the reasons behind them are fascinating. The question and answer format makes it a book that can picked up and put down at the reader’s convenience. (I like these kind of books when I am busy, but still need to satisfy my need to read.)
Title: The Secret Miracle
Sub-Title: The Novelist’s Handbook
Editor: Daniel Alarcon
Publisher: Holt Paperbacks