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The Craft of Fiction: Matt Bell on Refuse to Be Done with Benjamin Dreyer

March 22, 2022

They say writing is rewriting. So why does the second part get such short shrift? Novelist Matt Bell’s Refuse to Be Done passionately and practically guides writers through every step of the novel writing process, from getting started on those first pages to the last tips for making your final draft even tighter and stronger. Benjamin Dreyer—vice president, executive managing editor and copy chief, of Random House and writer of Dreyer’s English: An Utterly Correct Guide to Clarity and Style—joined Bell for a conversation on moving through the revision process with fresh eyes and clear strategy.

Photos by Kelsie Lynn Bennett

In Conversation

  • Matt Bell Author Photo 2021 (credit Jessica Bell) - Eliana Cohen-Orth

    Matt Bell

    Matt Bell

    Matt Bell is the author most recently of the novels Appleseed, Scrapper (a Michigan Notable Book), and In the House Upon the Dirt Between the Lake and the Woods (a finalist for the Young Lions Fiction Award and an Indies Choice Adult Debut Book of the Year Honor Recipient, as well as the winner of the Paula Anderson Book Award). His stories have appeared in Best American Mystery Stories, Tin House, Conjunctions, Fairy Tale Review, Gulf Coast, and many other publications. A native of Michigan, he now teaches creative writing at Arizona State University.

    Photo Credit: Jessica Bell

  • Benjamin Dreyer ©Gabriel Dreyer - Eliana Cohen-Orth

    Benjamin Dreyer

    Benjamin Dreyer

    Benjamin Dreyer is vice president, executive managing editor and copy chief, of Random House. Benjamin began his publishing career as a freelance proofreader and copy editor. In 1993, he became a production editor at Random House, overseeing books by writers including Michael Chabon, Edmund Morris, Suzan-Lori Parks, Michael Pollan, Peter Straub, and Calvin Trillin. He has copyedited books by authors including E. L. Doctorow, David Ebershoff, Frank Rich, and Elizabeth Strout, as well as Let Me Tell You, a volume of previously uncollected work by Shirley Jackson. A graduate of Northwestern University, he lives in New York City.

    Photo Credit: Gabriel Dreyer