Frances Howard-Snyder

Writer & Philosopher

“After nourishment, shelter and companionship, stories are the thing we need most in the world.” ― Philip Pullman



Fiction writer and philosopher, Frances Howard-Snyder, has been in love with stories and big, hard why questions since she was a tiny child. After earning a Ph.D. in philosophy at Syracuse and teaching at Western Washington University, she earned an MFA in creative writing at The Rainier Writing workshop at Pacific Lutheran University in 2022. She tries to blend her two passions, by writing fiction that explores difficult questions about trust and faith, #Metoo, love and cultural appropriation.  

She has published stories in Halfway Down the Stairs, Oxford Magazine, The Magnolia Review, and other places. Her short story collection, (now) titled, People you Know and Don’t Love won a first-place ribbon at the Chanticleer International Book Awards. She is working on more stories, a novel, and a craft book, Cause and Effect in Fiction (under contract with Macmillan for 2024). When not writing, she enjoys reading, walking, playing chess, travelling, and hanging out with her family: Dan, William and Peter. 

Photo by Amy Anderson, Lemon Wing

Work in Progress

George Saunders writes, “There are two things that separate writers who go on to publish from those who don’t. First, a willingness to revise. Second, the extent to which the writer has learned to make causality.” (p. 226, A Swim in a Pond in the Rain)

Wow! What if he’s right? What if this one skill can make a huge difference to the quality of one’s stories? Even if it won’t make all the difference, even if it just makes part of the difference, isn’t that something worth understanding and getting right? What is causality? What is causality in fiction? How does causality work in plot, character development, theme, dialogue, and scenic depiction? How do classical authors like Jane Austen and contemporary authors of literary and genre fiction, such as Toni Morrison and Maggie O’Farrell, Jhumpa Lahiri and Walter Mosley, harness the power of causality to make their work more compelling? Why does causality matter so much to fiction?

These are amongst the questions I address in my new book, “Cause and Effect in Fiction,” which I have a contract with Macmillan to write and which should be available in 2024.

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