Magazine article Book

Master Class: Want to Write a Book? Columbia Prof Sam Freedman Can Show You the Way. (Work)

Magazine article Book

Master Class: Want to Write a Book? Columbia Prof Sam Freedman Can Show You the Way. (Work)

Article excerpt

SAMUEL FREEDMAN MAY have found the magic formula to getting a book published. Since 1991, nineteen of his students (nine in the past two years alone), have landed lucrative book deals and a goodly amount of critical praise.

Freedman, a former New York Times reporter and author of four works of nonfiction, has turned his course at Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism into a boot camp for would-be authors. The book-writing seminar is rigorous--eight hours a week for fifteen weeks--and Freedman requires students to float their ideas past him before they sign up. His main requirement: The students have to have a viable, doable, publishable concept. He chooses the first sixteen students with good ideas.

"He actually found a kind of template for writing nonfiction books," says Linda Kulman, a 1993 graduate who went on to ghostwrite James Carville's We're Right, They're Wrong and Hillary Clinton's Dear Socks, Dear Buddy. "He taught me that writing a book is not a matter of divine inspiration but of laying out a grid; it's not magic, but craft."

Freedman's students are required to read a book a week for the first six weeks of the class and then write a series of chapter-length essays on the books' broader themes. …

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