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What If? : Writing Exercises for Fiction Writers,9780205616886
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What If? : Writing Exercises for Fiction Writers

by ;
Edition:
3rd
ISBN13:

9780205616886

ISBN10:
0205616887
Format:
Paperback
Pub. Date:
8/19/2009
Publisher(s):
Longman
List Price: $67.60

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Customer Reviews

Excellent guide for beginning writers  March 20, 2011
by


I bought this for a creative writing course. The book was very helpful, and I really enjoyed the exercises. The great thing about this book is that the chapters are so short and give you exercises to do right now without a lot of prerequisite preparation. I have written a few stories just based on the exercises. They unearth valuable memories that can be used to enliven stories. I recommend this book for those who are looking for story ideas and to help in their writing.






What If? : Writing Exercises for Fiction Writers: 5 out of 5 stars based on 1 user reviews.

Summary

This how-to-write fiction book is comprised primarily of exercises introduced by brief but informative essays on the aspects of fiction. Long on specifics and short on theoretical information so often found in books about the art of writing, this text provides a practical, hands-on approach to writing fiction. Organized by the elements of fiction and concluded by an anthology of contemporary fiction, this book helps all fiction writers hone and improve their craft.The elements of fiction-character, point of view, dialogue, plot, style and revision.For those interested in improving fiction-writing skills.

Table of Contents

<>Contents

Preface 


Introduction   

                                   

PART ONE

Beginnings 

            1.         First Sentences: Beginning in the Middle

            2.         Second Sentences as Different Paths

            3.         Ways to Begin a Story, from Robie Macauley 

            4.         Begin a Story with a “Given” First Line,  from William Kittredge 

            5.         Free Associating from Random Sentences, from DeWitt Henry

            6.         Person, Place, and Song, from Ron Carlson 

            7.         Stirring Up a Fiction Stew

            8.         The Newspaper Muse: Ann Landers and the National Enquirer 

            9.         Taking Risks


PART TWO

Characterization 

            10.       Oh! . . . That Sort of Person

            11.       What Do You Know About Your Characters?                           

            12.       Props

            13.       What Do Your Characters Want? 

            14.       Making Heroes Flawed, from Douglas Bauer 

            15.       Creating a Character’s Background, Place, Setting, and Milieu, from Robie Macauley  

            16.       Put Your Characters to Work

            17.       The Morning After

            18.       He/She: Switching Gender 


PART THREE

Perspective, Distance, and Point of View 

            19.       First Person or Third 

            20.       John Gardner on Psychic Distance

            21.       Shifts in Point of View

            22.       An Early Memory, Part One: The Child as Narrator

            23.       An Early Memory, Part Two: The Reminiscent Narrator 

            24.       The Unreliable Narrator 

            25.       Family Stories, Family Myths


PART FOUR

Dialogue

            26.       Speech Flavor, or Sounding Real, from Thalia Selz 

            27.       Telling Talk: When to Use Dialogue or Summarized Dialogue 

            28.       Who Said That?

            29.       The Invisible Scene: Interspersing Dialogue with Action

            30.       A Verbal Dance: Not Quite a Fight 

 

PART FIVE

The Interior Landscape of Your Characters

            31.       The Interior Landscape of Vision and Obsession

            32.       What Mayhem or Scene Is Happening Elsewhere? 

            33.       “I Know Just What She’ll Say” 

            34.       Mixed Motives and Maybes

            35.       The Need to Know: The Solace of Imagination

            36.       The Inside/Outside Story 

            37.       Five Years from Now…..

            38.       Dream Work

            39.       The Power of “Seemed” and “Probably”  

                       

PART SIX

Plot

            40.       The Skeleton 

            41.       From Situation to Plot 

            42.       Peter Rabbit and Adam and Eve: The Elements of Plot, from Thomas Fox Averill 

            43.       What If? How to Develop and Finish Stories

            44.       There’s a Party and You’re Invited, from Margot Livesey 

            45.       So, What Happened?  

            46.       Flash Forward:  or Little Did I Know               

            47.       Plot Potential 

            48.       Back Story as Narrative Summary:  Who’s Coming to Stay the Night

            49.       The End Foretold                    

                         

PART SEVEN

The Elements of Style 

            50.       A Style of Your Own, from Rod Kessler 

            51.       Taboos: Weak Adverbs and Adjectives 

            52.       Word Packages Are Not Gifts

            53.       Practice Writing Good, Clean Prose,  from Christopher Keane 

           

PART EIGHT

A Writer’s Toolbox

            54.       Handling the Problems of Time and Pace,  from Robie Macauley 

            55.       The Pet Story: Exposition, from Ron Carlson 

            56.       Bringing Abstract Ideas to Life 

            57.       Transportation: Getting There isn’t Half the Fun—It’s Boring 

            58.       Naming the Diner, Naming the Diet, Naming the Dog 

            59.       Transitions: Or White Space Does Not a Transition Make 

            60.       How to Keep a Narrative Moving Forward

            61.       Noises Off: The Beauty of Extraneous Sound, from Laurence Davies

            62.      Separating Author, Narrator, and Character,  from Frederick Reiken

            63.       Time Travel

            64.       Stairs: Setting and Place

            65.       Titles and Keys 


PART NINE

Invention and a Bit of Inspiration 

            66.       Illustrations, from Margot Livesey 

            67.       Bully

            68.       Far away Places 

            69.      Story Swap:  From Jordan Dann and the Aspen Writers’ Foundation

            70.       Humor: an Intact Frog

            71.       Sunday: Discovering Emotional Triggers 

            72.       Kill the Dog

            73.       Five Different Versions: And Not One Is a Lie 

            74.       What You Carry

            75.       Psycho: Creating Terror 

            76.       One in the Hand 

            77.       Notes and Letters 

            78.       The Chain Story 


PART TEN

Revision: Rewriting Is Writing 

            79.       Opening Up Your Story 

            80.       Gifts to Yourself 

            81.       Show and Tell: There’s a Reason It’s Called Storytelling, from Carol-Lynn Marrazzo                

            82.       A Little Gardening, A Little Surgery 

            83.       Magnifying Conflict, from David Ray 

            84.       What’s at Stake? from Ken Rivard 

            85.       It Ain’t Over Till It’s Over 

            86.       The Double Ending: Two Points in Time                       

            87.       In-Class Revision 


PART ELEVEN

Sudden, Flash, Micro, Nano: Writing the Short Short Story 

            88.       Sudden Fiction, from James Thomas 

            89.       Write a Story Using a Small Unit of Time 

            90.       Solving for X, from Ron Carlson 

            91.       The Journey of the Long Sentence 

            92.       He said/She said: But About What!

            93.       Rules of the Game

            94.       Ten to One, from Hester Kaplan 

            95.       Make a List

            96.       Questions. Some Answers

            97.       How to . . .  . . .  

            98.       Nanofictions

 

PART TWELVE

Learning from the Greats 

            99.       Finding Inspiration in Other Sources—Poetry, Nonfiction, etc. 

            100.     The Sky’s the Limit: Homage to Kafka and García Márquez, from Christopher Noël 

            101.     Learning from the Greats 

            102.     Borrowing Characters 

            103.     What Keeps You Reading?                 

            104.     The Literary Scene Circa 1893, 1929, 1948, or?,  from George Garrett 


PART THIRTEEN  

Notebooks, Journals, and Memory

            105.     Who Are You? Somebody! 

            106.     People From the Past: Characters of the Future 

            107.     An Image Notebook, from Melanie Rae Thon

            108.     Journal Keeping for Writers, from William Melvin Kelley 

            109.     Creative Wrong Memory

            110.     Let Us Write Letters

           

PART FOURTEEN

A Collection of Short Short Stories  


LINDA BREWER  20/20 

ANTONIA CLARK  Excuses I Have Already Used 

BRIAN HINSHAW  The Custodian 

MARIETTE LIPPO  Confirmation Names 

MELISSA MCCRACKEN  It Would’ve Been Hot  

JUDITH CLAIRE MITCHELL  My Mother’s Gifts 

PAMELA PAINTER  The New Year 

GRACE PALEY  Wants 

BRUCE HOLLAND ROGERS  How Could a Mother

ELIZABETH TALLENT  No One’s a Mystery 

LUISA VALENZUELA  Vision Out of the Corner of One Eye 


PART FIFTEEN

A Collection of Short Stories 

CHARLES BAXTER  Gryphon 

RON CARLSON  Some of Our Work with Monsters 

RAYMOND CARVER  Cathedral 

SANDRA CISNEROS Eleven

MICHAEL CUNNINGHAM  White Angel 

DAGOBERTO GILB  The Pillows

PAM HOUSTON  How to Talk to a Hunter 

HESTER KAPLAN  WOULD YOU KNOW IT WASN’T LOVE?

BOBBIE ANN MASON  Shiloh 

THOMAS MCNEELY  Sheep 

ALICE MUNRO  Five Points 

ZZ Packer Brownies

RICHARD RUSSO The Whore’s Child

JENNIFER SHAFF Leave of Absence

KATE WHEELER  Under the Roof 


Selected Bibliography 


About the Contributors of Exercises 


Credits 


Index 

 

 



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