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Writing Fiction
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Table of Contents

1 Whatever Works: The Writing Process

Get Started

Journal Keeping

Freewriting

Exercises

The Computer

The Critic: A Caution

Choosing a Subject

The Dilemma, or Catch-22

The Incongruity

The Connection

The Memory

The Transplant.

The Revenge

Keep Going

A Word About Theme

Reading as Writers

About the Writing Workshop

How Workshops Work

The Writer's Role

Writing Exercises

2 Seeing Is Believing: Showing and Telling

Significant Detail

Writing About Emotion

Filtering

Comparison

Types Of Metaphor And Simile

Metaphoric Faults To Avoid

The Active Voice

Prose Rhythm

Mechanics

We Didn't

STUART DYBEK

Goal 666

Stacey Richter

Binocular Vision

Edith Pearlman

Writing Exercises

3 Building Character: Characterization, Part I

The Direct Methods of Character Presentation

Dialogue

Summary, Indirect, and Direct Dialogue

Economy in Dialogue

Characterizing Dialogue

Other Uses of Dialogue

Dialogue as Action

Text and Subtext

"No" Dialogue

Specificity

Pacing.

Format and Style

Vernacular

Fiesta, 1980

Junot Diaz

Every Tongue Shall Confess

ZZ PACKER

Emergency

Denis Johnson

Writing Exercises

4 The Flesh Made Word: Characterization, Part II

The Direct Methods of Character Presentation

Appearance

Action

Thought

The Indirect Methods of Character Presentation

Authorial Interpretation

Interpretation By Another Character

Conflict Between Methods of Presentation

The Universal Paradox

Credibility

Purpose

Complexity

Change

Reinventing Character

Creating a Group or Crowd

The Character Journal

Character: A Summary

Bullet in the Brain

Tobias Wolff

Tandolfo the Great

Richard Bausch

Eleven

Sandra Cisneros

Writing Exercises

5 Far, Far Away: Fictional Place

Place and Atmosphere

Harmony and Conflict Between Character and Place

Place and Character

Place and Emotion

Symbolic and Suggestive Place

Alien and Familiar Place

An Exercise in Place

St. Lucy's Home for Girls Raised by Wolves

Karen Russell

The Flowers

Alice Walker

A Visit of Charity

Eudora Welty

Writing Exercises

6 Long Ago: Fictional Time

Summary and Scene

Revising Summary and Scene

Flashback

Slow Motion

You're Ugly, Too

Lorrie Moore

The Fun House

Sherman Alexie

Currents

Hannah Bottomy Voskuil

Writing Exercises

7 The Tower And The Net: Story Form, Plot, and Structure

Conflict, Crisis, and Resolution

The Arc of the Story

Patterns of Power

Connection and Disconnection

Story Form as an Inverted Check Mark

Story and Plot

The Short Story and the Novel

Types of Fiction

Escapes

Joy Williams

Mud

Geoffrey Forsyth

Everything That Rises Must Converge

FLANNERY O'CONNOR

Writing Exercises

8 Call Me Ishmael: Point of View

Who Speaks?

Third Person

Omniscience

Limited Omniscience

The Objective Author

Second Person

First Person

To Whom?

The Reader

Another Character

The Self

Interior Monologue

Stream of Consciousness

In What Form?

At What Distance?

Consistency: A Final Caution

Victory Lap

George Saunders

No One's a Mystery

Elizabeth Tallent

Reply All

Robin Hemley

Writing Exercises

9 Play it Again, Sam: Revision

Re-Vision

Worry it and Walk Away

Criticism and the Story Workshop

Asking the Big Question: What Have I Written?

How Fictional Elements Contribute to Theme

Revision Questions

Further Suggestions for Revision

Examples of the Revision Process

Battery

Pia Z. Ehrhardt

Following the Notes

Pia Z. Ehrhardt

Writing Exercises

Appendix: What Next? Professionalism and Literary Citizenship

Index

About the Author

JANET BURROWAY is the author of plays, poetry, essays, children's books, and eight novels including The Buzzards, Raw Silk (runner up for the National Book Award), Opening Nights, Cutting Stone, and Bridge of Sand. Her other publications include a collection of personal essays, Embalming Mom, in addition to a volume of poetry, Material Goods, and three children's books in verse, The Truck on the Track, The Giant Jam Sandwich, and The Perfect Pig. Her plays Medea with Child (The Reva Shiner Award), Sweepstakes, Division of Property (Arts & Letters Award), and Parts of Speech have received readings and productions in New York, London, San Francisco, Hollywood, Chicago, and various regional theaters. Her textbook Writing Fiction, now in its ninth edition, is the most widely used creative writing text in the United States. Her most recent books are a memoir, Losing Tim, and a collection of essays she has edited, A Story Larger Than My Own: Women Writers Look Back on Their Lives and Careers. She is Robert O. Lawton Distinguished Professor Emerita at the Florida State University in Tallahassee and has most recently taught in the MFA Program in Creative Writing at Northwestern University.

ELIZABETH STUCKEY-FRENCH, Associate Professor, MFA Iowa Writers Workshop (1992), specializes in fiction. She was a James A. Michener Fellow at the University of Iowa and is the author of a short story collection, The First Paper Girl in Red Oak, Iowa, and two novels, The Revenge of the Radioactive Lady and Mermaids on the Moon. Her stories have appeared in The Atlantic Monthly, The Gettysburg Review,The Southern Review, Five Points, and other literary journals. In 2005, she received an O. Henry Award for the story "Mudlavia," cited by juror Richard Russo as "favorite story."


NED STUCKEY-FRENCH, Assistant Professor, B. A., magna cum laude, Harvard College (1972), M.A., Brown University (1992), Ph. D., University of Iowa (1997). Dr. Stuckey-French specializes in the personal essay and modern American literature and culture, especially magazine culture. His study of magazine culture and class construction entitled The American Essay in the American Century is forthcoming from the University of Missouri Press. He is also editing (with Carl Klaus) a collection of essays on the essay, which includes work from Montaigne to the present, and it will appear from the University of Iowa Press.
His reviews and critical work have appeared in journals such as American Literature, The CEA Critic, Modern Fiction Studies, Fourth Genre, culturefront, and The Iowa Review, and in The Scribner Encyclopedia of American Lives, The Walt Whitman Encyclopedia and The Encyclopedia of the Essay.
He also writes creative nonfiction and is the book review editor for the journal Fourth Genre. His essays, which have appeared in magazines such as In These Times, The Missouri Review, The Pinch, and Walking Magazine, have been listed three times among the notable essays in the Best American Essays series. He is working on a memoir of his ten years as a trade union organizer in a Boston hospital.

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