Robert Olen Butler Official Website

From Where You Dream



I need to make this clear first off: no matter where you are in your writing career, if you aspire to create literature, if you aspire to be an artist in the medium of language, if you aspire to create narratives of

whatever length that arrive at the condition of art—there are fundamental truths about the artistic process to which you must attend.

In the nearly two decades I’ve been teaching this subject, I have read many thousands of manuscripts from aspiring writers, and virtually all of them—virtually all of them—fail to show an intuitive command of the essentials of the process of fictional art. Because of the creative writing pedagogy in this country, and because of the nature of this art form, and because of the medium you work with, and because of the rigors of artistic vision, and because of youth, and because no one has ever told you these things clearly, the great likelihood is that all of the fiction you’ve written is mortally flawed in terms of the essentials of process.




“A remarkably candid, clarifying, and profoundly demanding how-to… Butler’s electrifying theories are backed by illuminating examples and startling practices. Incisive and provocative… a must for anyone even thinking about writing fiction.”

— Donna Seaman, Booklist

“Butler shares his insights into—and passion for—the creation and experience of fiction with total openness, and seriously aspiring writers should receive this text/manifesto in the same light.”

Publishers Weekly (starred review)



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