Writers Tip #92: How to Write Like a Pulitzer Prize Winner

I’ve oft wondered about the fact that you can take a story and the way it’s written and that’s considered literature, and then there’s chewing gum for the brain, which is the rest of us. And I have discussions with my wife about “The Pearl” and other stories we were forced to devour in high school, and whether anyone actually reads those books because they want to.

This article breaks it down and it makes sense. Sort of.

When you read your story, does it sound off, maybe you can’t quite put your finger on it, but you know you’ve done something wrong? Sometimes–maybe even lots of times–there are simple fixes. These writer’s tips will come at you once a week, giving you plenty of time to go through your story and make the adjustments.

I have never wanted to write like Pulitzer Prize Winners Ernest Hemingway, Saul Bellow, or William Faulkner,. The style doesn’t fit me. Not to say I wouldn’t love to win one of the world’s most prestigious writer awards–who wouldn’t?–but I don’t think I can make the compromises to my personal voice to fit into that square hole.

I didn’t understand why until I read Joe Bunting’s article on what characterizes that style of writing (see below). You may see yourself in them. That’s good. There’s room for all of us under the authorial umbrella. If…

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2 thoughts on “Writers Tip #92: How to Write Like a Pulitzer Prize Winner

    • Sure. I confess I the chewing gum comment is not mine, but I do not recall from whom I lifted it, and if so, whether that was originally theirs. Who knows? It’s a delightful concept. There’s high-brow Anna Karenina kind of literature where the author would never get away with what they did then if they did it now. “Mr. Tolstoy? First off, your manuscript is much too long. Second, your developmental editor says you killed off the title character three quarters of the way through the book. You cannot do that. We suggest you keep her alive to the end and change her character arc. Next, you have too many characters and we think you should roll them together. Also, you’re too adverby, your sentences are too long, you didn’t use the right paper and font and your manuscript is entirely handwritten; you must do your submissions in word or some other electronic format.”


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