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On Writing Short Stories



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Oxford University Press
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This is the 2nd edition with a publication date of 7/1/2010.

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  • On Writing Short Stories
    On Writing Short Stories

Customer Reviews

Awesome book  May 11, 2011

If you are looking for a guide through the mire of writing short fiction, you can't go wrong with this textbook! Particularly useful are its dissections of classic short stories, using them as case studies that aptly demonstrate what works in a story and why, the comments by published authors very insightful, and the selection of short stories includes some of the best ever written. You'll be a better writer for it. Highly recommended.

On Writing Short Stories: 5 out of 5 stars based on 1 user reviews.


On Writing Short Stories, Second Edition, explores the art and craft of writing short fiction by bringing together nine original essays by professional writers and thirty-three examples of short fiction. The first section features original essays by well-known authors--including Francine Prose, Joyce Carol Oates, and Andre Dubus--that guide students through the process of writing. Focusing on the characteristics and craft of the short story and its writer, these essays take students from the workshopping process all the way through to the experience of working with agents and publishers. The second part of the text is an anthology of stories--many referred to in the essays--that give students dynamic examples of technique brought to life.

In this second edition, author-editor Tom Bailey brings the text up-to-date with new and revised essays, alongside classic pieces by Robert Coles and Frank Conroy and a foreword by Tobias Wolff.

New to This Edition

- Includes new and revised essays: Two new essays on work shopping by award-winning fiction writers Robert Boswell ("After the Workshop: Transitional Drafts") and Antonya Nelson ("Whose Story Is It? The Anonymous Workshop") introduce the latest techniques in the process. C. Michael Curtis updates his essay on "Publishers and Publishing" in order to take into account the rise of electronic and online publishing.

- Offers an expanded, diversified anthology of thirty-three stories, including works by short-short fiction and non-Western authors. New selections include works by such well-known authors at Jhumpa Lahiri and ZZ Packer.

- The essay on craft is accompanied by writing exercises that push students to develop their craft as they work through the writing process.

Author Biography

Tom Bailey is Professor of English at Susquehanna University, where he teaches Creative Fiction in the school's Writers Institute. He is the winner of the 2006 Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters Award for Fiction and the recipient of a Newhouse Award from the John Gardner Foundation. His novels include Cotton Song and The Grace that Keeps this World, and his collection of short stories is titled Crow Man. He is also the author of A Short Story Writer's Companion (OUP, 2000).

Table of Contents

Foreword by Tobias Wolff

Part One: On Writing Short Stories

Francine Prose, What Makes a Short Story
Joyce Carol Oates, Reading as a Writer: The Artist as Craftsman
Tom Bailey, Character, Plot, Setting and Time, Metaphor, and Voice
The Voice of Desire: Character
The Why? Behind the Power of Plot: Shaping the Short Story
The Lesser Angels of Fiction: Setting and Time
"The Connectedness of All Living Things": Metaphor
The Writer's Signature: Voice
Frank Conroy, The Writer's Workshop
Antonya Nelson. Whose Story Is It? The Anonymous Workshop
Robert Boswell After the Workshop: Transitional Drafts
Andre Dubus, The Habit of Writing.
Robert Cole, Why Write? Taking on the World
C. Michael Curtis, Publishers and Publishing

Part Two: Short Stories

Guy de Maupassant, The String
Anton Chekhov, The Lady with the Pet Dog
James Joyce, Eveline
Yukio Mishima, Patriotism
Ernest Hemingway, Hills Like White Elephants
Tillie Olsen, I Stand Here Ironing
William Faulkner, A Rose for Emily
John Steinbeck, The Chrysanthemums
Cynthia Ozick, The Shawl
Flannery O'Connor, Everything That Rises Must Converge
John Updike, A & P
Margaret Atwood, Happy Endings
Joyce Carol Oates, Heat
Raymond Carver, Cathedral
Mark Helprin, North Light
Jayne Anne Phillips, Wedding Picture, Cheers, Stripper, and The Powder of the Angles, and I'm Yours
Ron Hansen, Wickedness
David Leavitt, Braids
Jumpha Lahiri, A Temporary Matter
Tom Franklin, Alaska
Junot Diaz, Nilda
Rick Bass, The Fireman
Tom Bailey, Snow Dreams
Susan Perabo, The Payoff
Robert Boswell, The Darkness of Love
ZZ Packer, Brownies
Andre Dubus, A Father's Story
Antonya Nelson, Dick
Susan Mino, Lust
Tobias Wolff, Bullet in the Brain

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