Imaginative Writing: The Elements of Craft / Edition 3

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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!

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780205750351
  • Publisher: Longman
  • Publication date: 1/18/2010
  • Series: Penguin Academics Series
  • Edition description: Older Edition
  • Edition number: 3
  • Pages: 416
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

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, The Truck 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.

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Table of Contents

*** indicate selections new to this edition.

CHAPTER 1 Invitation to the writer

You . . .

. . . and writing . . .

. . . and reading. . .

. . . and this book . . .

. . . and your journal . . .


Ayelet Waldeman***

Billy Collins ***

Cris Mazza ***

Patricia Henley***

Philip Graham***

A word about your workshop . . .

PART I The Elements of Craft


Image and Imagination

Concrete, Significant Details

Figures of Speech


Creative Nonfiction

Annie Dillard

from Heaven and Earth in Jest

David Sedaris

What I Learned ***


Nadine Gordimer

The Diamond Mine


Roger Bonair-Agard

American history looks for light—a prayer for the survival of Barak Obama ***

Billy Collins

Snow Day

Yusef Komunyakaa

Facing It


Don Nigro

Come into the Garden, Maud ***


Your Voice


Character Voice

Point of View


Creative Nonfiction

Alice Walker

Beauty: When the Other Dancer is the Self

Warren J. Bowe

Guns for Teachers ***

Calvin Trillin

Rock Threat Subsides ***


Thomas McGuane

Cowboy ***

Jorge Luis Borges

The Book of Sand ***


William Trowbridge

Kong Looks Back on His Tryout with the Bears

Sian B. Griffiths

Fistful ***

Matt Bondurant

The Pathos of Charles Schultz ***

Barbara Hamby

Ode to American English ***


Jane Martin

French Fries

CHAPTER 4 Character

As Desire

As Image

As Voice

As Action

As Thought

As Presented by the Author

As Conflict

Stock and Flat Characters


Creative Nonfiction

Stuart Dybek

Thread ***

Lois-Ann Yamanaka

JohnJohn’s World ***


Alice Monroe

Prue ***

Gabriel Garcia Marquez

The Handsomest Drowned Man in the World ***


Theodore Roethke

I Knew a Woman

Carole Simmons Oles


Allen Ginsberg

To Aunt Rose

Elizabeth Jennings

One Flesh

Ted Kooser

Tattoo ***


Alan Bennett

Bed Among the Lentils ***

CHAPTER 5 Setting

As the World

As a Camera

As Mood and Symbol

As Action


Creative Nonfiction

Joan Didion

At the Dam

Paul Theroux

The Slow Train to Kandy ***


Donald Barthelme

The School

Angela Carter

The Werewolf ***


Sherman Alexie

At Navajo Monument Valley Tribal School

Heather McHugh

Earthmoving Malediction

Philip Appleman

Nobody Dies in the Spring ***

Yusef Komunyakaa

Nude Interrogation


David Ives

The Philadelphia


As a Journey

As a Power Struggle

As Connection and Disconnection


Creative Nonfiction

Patricia Hampl

Red Sky in the Morning


David Foster Wallace

Incarnations of Burned Children ***

Naguib Mahfouz

Half a Day ***


Robert Hass

A Story About the Body

Albert Goldbarth

Columbine High School/Littleton, CO

Ellen Bryant Voigt

Short Story

Maxine Kumin


Li - Young Lee

The Hammock


Michael Golamco

Heartbreaker ***

CHAPTER 7 Development And Revision

Developing a Draft





The Workshop


Elizabeth Bishop: First and Final Drafts of One Art

Patty Seyburn: Anatomy of Disorder ***

Janet Burroway: The Opening of Indian Dancer: A Revision Narrative

Mark Vinz: The Penitent ***

Rita Mae Reese: A History of Glass ***


CHAPTER 8 Creative Nonfiction

The Essay and Creative Nonfiction

Memoir and the Personal Essay

Techniques of Creative Nonfiction

Fact and Truth


Gayle Pemberton

Do He Have Your Number, Mr. Jeffrey?

Margaret Atwood

The Female Body

S. L. Wisenberg

Margot’s Diary ***

Studs Terkel

Jack Culberg, 79 ***

Creative Nonfiction Format

CHAPTER 9 Fiction

Story and Plot

Scene and Summary

Backstory and Flashback

Text and Subtext


Amy Bloom

The Story

Ernest Hemingway

A Very Short Story ***

Tobias Wolff

Powder ***

Ron Carlson

Bigfoot Stole My Wife

Fiction Format

CHAPTER 10 Poetry

Formal and Free Verse

Working with Sound

The Poetic Line

Imagery, Connotation, and Metaphor

Density and Intensity


Gerald Stern

Columbia the Gem

Sound: Verbal and Nonverbal

The Ten-Minute Play

Some Notes on Screenwriting


Anton Chekhov

The Proposal ***

José Rivera


Alice O ’ Neill

What I Came For ***

Lanford Wilson


Drama Format

Appendix A: Basic Prosody

Appendix B: Line Editing




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  • Posted September 25, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    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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