Wilton Barnhardt: Risk (July 1998)
Wilton Barnhardt argues that great writing takes some kind of risk; he also acknowledges that risk-taking is, well, risky. How do we know, for example, when a risk is just an indulgence? Barnhardt identifies different types of literary risk—from the startling simile to conceptual leaps and extreme narrative swerves. Exploring how writers can successfully use these techniques, he looks to work by Virginia Woolf, Stephen Dobyns, and Shirley Jackson for examples.