Janet Burroway's bestselling Imaginative Writng: The Elements of Craft explores the craft of creative writing in four genres: Fiction, Poetry, Drama, and Creative Nonfiction. A trade author as well as a professor of creative writing, Burroway brings her years of teaching and writing to this book. "Try-This" exercises appear throughout each chapter. Provocative and fun, these exercises help writers develop the specific writing skills discussed within the text. “Working toward a draft” exercises encourage writers to develop their ideas into complete drafts. In response to reviewer requests, the preface “Invitation to the Writer” has been expanded into a full chapter. This new chapter introduces writers to important skills such as reading like a writer, journaling, and participating in the writer’s workshop. This book offers lots of ideas and encouragement at a great price!
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 publications include a collection of personal essays, "Embalming Mom," in addition to a volume of poetry, Material Goods, and two children’s books in verse, TheTruck on the Track and The Giant Jam Sandwich. Her most recent 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 NewYork, London, San Francisco, Hollywood, Chicago, and various regional theatres. Her textbook Writing Fiction, now in its eighth edition, is the most widely used creative writing text in the United States. She is Robert O. Lawton Distinguished Professor Emerita at the Florida State University in Tallahassee.
My review of Imaginative Writing: The Elements of Craft by Janet Burroway
I found Janet Burroway's book, Imaginative Writing: The Elements of Craft a great aid in my learning the art and science of Creative Writing. I first used the book in my introduction to Creative Writing in Graduate School. The book is very helpful in learning the elements of writing and how to use those elements in four genres of writing: Creative Nonfiction; Fiction; Poetry; and Drama
The book is divided into two parts: Part 1 presents the elements chapter by chapter with insights into the elements: Image; Voice; Character; Setting; Story; and a chapter on developing a draft and editing it. The Image chapter encourages imbibing in the dynamic of actively bringing in your own memories, experiences, and imagination to evoke the senses in the writing process in the use of figures of speech such as personification, metaphor, and simile. The Voice chapter helps in acquiring a writing persona and presents points of view for writing in the use of first person, second person, and third person. The Character chapter combines the image and voice in bringing characters alive in the action of the story. The Setting chapter assists in establishing a place and time to ground the story and create the mood that reveals character, and advances the action. The Story chapter guides in developing structure to set up the stories conflict, crisis, and resolution in the power struggle between a protagonist and antagonist that gives the sense of uncertainty of outcome that keeps the story moving. The last chapter of Part 1 Development and Revision shows how to develop a draft of the story and how to structure it, and tips on research, revising, and editing the story. All chapters are rich in example pieces of work to highlight the process of the discussion.
Part 2 acquaints in depth the four genres: Creative Nonfiction; Fiction; Poetry; and Drama. The Creative Nonfiction chapter gives good direction in approaching memoir and personal essay writing with guidance on emphasizing what is meant and what matters in the writing, getting to detail and dialogue, setting up the scenes, and character development. The Fiction chapter focuses on story and plot development, concrete scene detail to affect the senses of the reader, and summary for information and a sense of time. The Poetry chapter informs on the difference between Formal Verse and Free Verse. There is the use of imagery, connotation, and metaphor for a heightened evocation of the senses in producing an emotional response in the reader, poetic density, rhythm and rhyme, and the study of versification of the poetic line placing stress and scansion for poetic verve. The Appendix further defines and explains the poetic line and form, including iambs, troches, anapest, and dactyl for stress and unstressed metering.
The last genre is Drama which explains the difference between drama and fiction. It shows the look and sound of drama with examples of dramatic play.
I find this book invaluable in my on going study and learning of Creative Nonfiction and Poetry. I refer back to this book often to keep me on track in my creative writing endeavors, and I feel this book will be a boon to anyone yearning to be a writer.
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