Ruth Steiner is a teacher and respected short story writer. Her student and protégée is Lisa Morrison. Over the course of 6 years, Lisa journeys from insecure student to successful writer. After publishing a well-received collection of short stories, Lisa writes a novel based on Ruth's affair with the poet Delmore Schwartz. The women deal with the moral dilemma of whether a person's life events are suitable for another to use in their own creative process.