On Teaching and Writing Fiction

On Teaching and Writing Fiction

by Wallace Stegner
     
 

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Wallace Stegner founded the acclaimed Stanford Writing Program-a program whose alumni include such literary luminaries as Larry McMurtry, Robert Stone, and Raymond Carver. Here Lynn Stegner brings together eight of Stegner's previously uncollected essays-including four never-before-published pieces -on writing fiction and teaching creative writing. In this unique

Overview

Wallace Stegner founded the acclaimed Stanford Writing Program-a program whose alumni include such literary luminaries as Larry McMurtry, Robert Stone, and Raymond Carver. Here Lynn Stegner brings together eight of Stegner's previously uncollected essays-including four never-before-published pieces -on writing fiction and teaching creative writing. In this unique collection he addresses every aspect of fiction writing-from the writer's vision to his or her audience, from the use of symbolism to swear words, from the mystery of the creative process to the recognizable truth it seeks finally to reveal. His insights will benefit anyone interested in writing fiction or exploring ideas about fiction's role in the broader culture.

Editorial Reviews

Kirkus Reviews
Thoughts on writing—his own and a healthy selection from those he admires—from the late Stegner (Marking the Sparrow's Fall, 1998, etc.), who along his protean way started the Stanford Writing Program. Stegner (1913–93) is not especially concerned here with how to write but rather with what to get at when writing: "an artifact, something shaped and created and capable of communicating whatever wisdom it has arrived at." In these eight essays, one of which includes the short story "Goin' to Town," he makes no bones about the seriousness of the matter. There's no place for the pretentious or the vain, for a piece of fiction is "a trial of the writer's whole understanding and a reflection of his whole feeling and knowing"; the writer is "a vendor of the sensuous particulars of life, a perceiver and handler of things," on a search for meaning, wonder, discovery, involvement. This comes out of life, experiential and inspiriting; the writer arrives at something to say of value and insight, takes the chaos of reality and works it into the picture without blurring the artistic frame: distilled, sharpened, purified. When teaching, "encourage the will to explore, plus impress upon the inexperienced a few of the dos and don'ts . . . certain tested literary tools and techniques and strategies and stances and ways of getting at the narrative essence." To give advice, Stegner calls up the heavy artillery: Conrad, Frost, Hemingway. Sometimes he's high on imagery ("like a piece of ice on a hot stove the poem must ride on its own melting," writes Frost), other times he extols the value of practice and rewriting, cutting the prose clean, honing the exigent art of seeing straight, taking what youwant to say and stating it with the aim of "communicating not only its meaning but its quintessential emotion, the thing that made it important to you in the first place." You write what you are, asserts Stegner, one of those truths no artist escapes.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780142001479
Publisher:
Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
12/28/2002
Pages:
144
Sales rank:
430,696
Product dimensions:
5.10(w) x 7.70(h) x 0.40(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

Related Subjects

Meet the Author

Wallace Stegner (1909-1993) was the author of numerous works of fiction and nonfiction, including the National Book Award-winning The Spectator Bird and the Pulitzer Prize-winning Angle of Repose. He received the Robert Kirsch Award from the Los Angeles Times for his lifetime literary achievement.

Brief Biography

Date of Birth:
February 18, 1909
Date of Death:
April 13, 1993
Place of Birth:
Lake Mills, Iowa
Place of Death:
Santa Fe, New Mexico
Education:
B.A., University of Utah, 1930; attended University of California, 1932-33; Ph. D., State University of Iowa, 1935

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