The Daily Port of Call: January 10, 2014

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In today’s Daily Port of Call, get some advice from Colson Whitehead, uncover letters from Mary Shelley, and keep your simple tenses straight.

How do you learn to write? “It’s like watching someone dance and then secretly, in your own room, trying out a few steps. I often think of learning to write by reading as something like the way I first began to read. I had a few picture books I’d memorized and pretended I could read, as a sort of party trick that I did repeatedly for my parents, who were also pretending, in their case to be amused. I never knew exactly when I crossed the line from pretending to actually being able, but that was how it happened.” --Francine Prose

Colson Whitehead tells us how to write. Rule No. 6: What isn’t said is as important as what is said.

We hope you don’t have to go to these lengths…Demosthenes shaved half his head so that he would stay inside and keep working. Here are some other eccentricities of famous writers.

What can you find in an Essex archive? Letters from Mary Shelley.

Simple tenses don’t have to make you tense! Grammar Cat to the rescue!

Create a killer opening line and successful ending for your novel.