âMake [your] characters want something right awayâeven if itâs only a glass of water. Characters paralyzed by the meaninglessness of modern life still have to drink water from time to time.â âKurt VonnegutââThe cat sat on the matâ is not the beginning of a story, but âthe cat sat on the dogâs matâ is.â âJohn Le CarrĂ©Nothing is more inspiring for a beginning writer than listening to masters of the craft talk about the writing life. But if you canât get Vladimir Nabokov, Virginia Woolf, and Gabriel GarcĂa MĂĄrquez together at the Algonquin, The Modern Library Writerâs Workshop gives you the next best thing. Stephen Koch, former chair of Columbia Universityâs graduate creative writing program, presents a unique guide to the craft of fiction. Along with his own lucid observations and commonsense techniques, he weaves together wisdom, advice, and inspiring commentary from some of our greatest writers. Taking you from the moment of inspiration (keep a notebook with you at all times), to writing a first draft (do it quickly! you can always revise later), to figuring out a plot (plot always serves the story, not vice versa), Koch is a benevolent mentor, glad to dispense sound advice when you need it most. The Modern Library Writerâs Workshop belongs on every writerâs shelf, to be picked up and pored over for those moments when the muse needs a little help finding her way.