Behind the Short Story: From First to Final Draft / Edition 1

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Behind the Short Story provides the “inside scoop” on how a successful story emerges from first to final draft by compiling critical analysis techniques, writing exercises, representative stories, and useful insights into the writing process from award-winning, student-oriented teachers who are also successful short story writers. Covering the process of writing and elements of fiction at the same time, unique craft commentaries explore the decisions writers make on issues of structure, character, setting, etc. and offer practical suggestions for pre-writing, drafting, and revising.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780321117243
  • Publisher: Longman
  • Publication date: 3/3/2006
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 464
  • Product dimensions: 8.90 (w) x 6.20 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Table of Contents

Preface to the Instructor

Introduction to the Student


Getting Started: Essay and Writing Suggestions

Section One: Creating Raw Material

Peter Meinke

Unheard Music

Meinke on Journaling

Steve Almond

The Soul Molecule

Almond on Generating Story Ideas

Section Two: Discovering Stories Through Personal Experience

Janice Eidus

Vito Loves Geraldine

Eidus on Transferring Personal Experience Into Fiction

Section Three: Discovering Stories Through Observation and Research

Elizabeth Graver

The Mourning Door

Graver on Where Stories Come From

Julianna Baggott

Dr. Ishida Explains his Case

Baggott on the Role of Research in Fiction


Writing the First Scene: Essay and Writing Suggestions

Section One: Story Structure and the Fundamentals of Plot

John McNally

The New Year

McNally on Story Beginnings

Aaron Gwyn

Of Falling

Gwyn on Story Middles

Jarret Keene

Son of Mogar

Keene on Story Endings

Alice Mattison

In Case We’re Separated

Mattison on Story Structure

Section Two: Developing Characters

Turning Ideas into Characters: Essay and Writing Suggestions

Lorrie Moore


Moore on Breathing Life into Characters

Amy Bloom


Bloom on Creating Dynamic Characters

Tom Franklin

Nap Time

Franklin on Story Tension

Section Three: Choosing a Point of View

Michael Knight

Gerald’s Monkey

Knight on First Person Point of View

Adam Johnson

The Death Dealing Cassini Satellite

Johnson on Second Person Point of View

Judith Claire Mitchell

A Man of Few Words

Mitchell on Third Person Limited Point of View

Lee K. Abbott

One of Star Wars, One of Doom

Abbott on Third Person Omniscient Point of View

Josh Russell

Yellow Jack

Russell on Third Person Objective Point of View

Section Four: Scene Construction

Reginald McKnight

Palm Wine

McKnight on Creating Detail and Setting

George Singleton


Singleton on Fictional Time

Keith Morris

The Children of Dead State Troopers

Morris on Dialogue

Section Five: The Short-Short Story

Tom Hazuka

Field Trip

Homeward Bound




Hazuka on Writing the Short-Short Story


Identifying Common Fiction Problems: Essay and Writing Suggestions

Section One: Revision Techniques

Melissa Pritchard

Salve Regina

Pritchard on Drafting and Large-Scale Revision

Stephen Graham Jones

Adultery, A Failing Sestina

Jones on Revising Scenes and Line-editing

Section Two: The Story and Its Audience

T. Coraghessan Boyle

Greasy Lake

Boyle on Managing Tone and Controlling Reader Sympathy

George Saunders


Saunders on Humor and Audience Concerns

Section Three: Theme, Meaning, and Vision

Mary Gaitskill

A Bestial Noise

Gaitskill on Building a Story’s Theme and Meaning

Virgil Suárez

Lalo’s Skin

Suárez on Staking Out Your Own Territory

Appendix A–Biographies

Appendix B–Further Readings

Appendix C–Sample Writer Groupings/Alternate Table of Contents

Appendix D–A Brief Glossary


General Index

Index of Authors, Titles, and First Lines

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