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The most widely used and respected text in its field, Writing Fiction, Ninth Edition guides the novice story writer from first inspiration to final revision.
A bestseller through eight editions, Writing Fiction explores the elements of fiction, providing practical writing techniques and concrete examples. Written in a tone that is personal and non-prescriptive, the text encourages students to develop proficiency through each step of the writing process, offering an abundance of exercises designed to spur writing and creativity. The text also integrates diverse, contemporary short stories in the belief that the reading of inspiring fiction goes hand-in-hand with the writing of fresh and exciting stories.
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.
Table of Contents
1 Whatever Works: The Writing Process
The Critic: A Caution
Choosing a Subject
The Dilemma, or Catch-22
A Word About Theme
Reading as Writers
About the Writing Workshop
How Workshops Work
The Writer’s Role
2 Seeing Is Believing: Showing and Telling
Writing About Emotion
Types Of Metaphor And Simile
Metaphoric Faults To Avoid
The Active Voice
3 Building Character: Characterization, Part I
The Direct Methods of Character Presentation
Summary, Indirect, and Direct Dialogue
Economy in Dialogue
Other Uses of Dialogue
Dialogue as Action
Text and Subtext
Format and Style
Every Tongue Shall Confess
4 The Flesh Made Word: Characterization, Part II
The Direct Methods of Character Presentation
The Indirect Methods of Character Presentation
Interpretation By Another Character
Conflict Between Methods of Presentation
The Universal Paradox
Creating a Group or Crowd
The Character Journal
Character: A Summary
Bullet in the Brain
Tandolfo the Great
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
A Visit of Charity
6 Long Ago: Fictional Time
Summary and Scene
Revising Summary and Scene
You’re Ugly, Too
The Fun House
Hannah Bottomy Voskuil
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
Everything That Rises Must Converge
8 Call Me Ishmael: Point of View
The Objective Author
Stream of Consciousness
In What Form?
At What Distance?
Consistency: A Final Caution
9 Play it Again, Sam: Revision
Worry it and Walk Away
Criticism and the Story Workshop
Asking the Big Question: What Have I Written?
How Fictional Elements Contribute to Theme
Further Suggestions for Revision
Examples of the Revision Process
Pia Z. Ehrhardt
Following the Notes
Pia Z. Ehrhardt
Appendix: What Next? Professionalism and Literary Citizenship