Narratives should be organized, Charles Baxter remarks in this lecture, “around the truth of the material and not the deployment of devices.” Yet urgency is crucial to good fiction. Drawing on Shakespeare’s Macbeth, Paula Fox’s The Widow’s Children, Joan Silber’s The Size of the World, Anton Chekhov’s “The Lady with the Pet Dog,” and Evelyn Waugh’s A Handful of Dust, Baxter offers a variety of strategies writers can use to deepen suspense and tension in their work.
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