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The Complete Handbook of Novel Writing, 3rd Edition by Writer's Digest Writer's Digest Editors

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Chapter Forty-Seven

Making Magic

How to Enchant Readers with Magic Realism

Kristin Bair O’Keeffe

Ever since I started writing as a kid, unusual things have happened in my well-grounded stories. A man named Harold sprouted a flower on his head. A line of seemingly nonsensical text became a secret code (“Tulips are on sale in Kanagawa—the place.”). A tree grew in a girl’s innards after her father fed her a cherry stone. A rabble of butterflies inspired a lusty softening of the heart. And in my latest novel, The Art of Floating, it’s not quite clear whether a mysterious man who just walked out of the sea is alien, fish, or lost soul.

Early on, friends and family dubbed my work “the odd stuff Kristin writes,” and it wasn’t until a literature class ...

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