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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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