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About Alice B. Adams
Alice Adams (August 14, 1926 – May 27, 1999) was an American novelist, short story writer, and university professor.
She was born in Fredericksburg, Virginia, grew up in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, and attended Radcliffe College, graduating in 1946. She married Mark Linenthal, and had a child, Peter Linenthal, but her marriage broke up, and she spent several years as a single mother, working as a secretary. Her psychiatrist told her to give up writing and get remarried; instead she published her first short story, Winter Rain, followed by a first novel, Careless Love (1966); in 1969 she began publishing stories in The New Yorker. She wrote eleven novels, including the bestseller Superior Women, but is best known and admired for her short stories, in collections such as Beautiful Girl(1979),After You've Gone (1989), and The Last Lovely City (1999).
She received numerous awards, including the O. Henry Lifetime Achievement Award and Best American Short Stories Award.
She has taught sporadically at Stanford University, the University of California, Davis, and the University of California at Berkeley.
Adams is also considered a minor literary theorist. Most important may be her observation from her own writing experience of "a formula when writing a short story, which goes ABDCE, for Action, Background, Development, Climax, and Ending. You begin with action that is compelling enough to draw [the reader] in, make us want to know more. Background is where you...see and know who these people are, how they’ve come to be together, what was going on before the opening of the story. Then you develop these people, so that we learn what they care most about. The plot – the drama, the actions, the tension – will grow out of that. You move them along until everything comes together in the climax, after which things are different for the main characters, different in some real way. And then there is the ending: what is our sense of who these people are now, what are they left with, what happened, and what did it mean?”
Adams died at home in San Francisco, California, in 1999.