Practice of Creative Writing: A Guide for Students / Edition 1

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The Practice of Creative Writing is designed for all students in the introductory course, including those who may never take another writing class. Its message is, simply put: you can do this, and it's worthwhile to try. Heather Sellers, who writes in multiple genres herself, has developed an approach that focuses on the habits and strategies that produce good writing in any genre. These habits and strategies make it possible for students to focus, to generate lots of writing, and to get to the good stuff -- the powerful imagery and the stories they really want to tell. She makes creative writing fun by providing opportunities to be playful and to experiment at the same time she teaches students the importance of discipline and craft.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"[This text] is engaging, idiosyncratic, smartly-written, amusing, informative and dead-on."

— John Walser, Marian College of Fond du Lac

"The tone and energy are fantastic, as is the continual implication that creative writing and student writing are important and vital. I also like the implication that students CAN do this. It's difficult and they must practice — but they can do it if they work hard . . . ."

—Barbara Griest Devora, Northwest Vista College

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780312436476
  • Publisher: Bedford/St. Martin's
  • Publication date: 7/27/2007
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 448
  • Product dimensions: 6.40 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Heather Sellers

HEATHER SELLERS (Ph.D., Florida State University) is professor of English at Hope College in Michigan, where she teaches fiction, poetry, and creative nonfiction. A recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship for Fiction and a Barnes and Noble New Discovery Writers Award, she has published widely in a variety of genres. Her books include Georgia Under Water, a collection of linked stories; Drinking Girls and Their Dresses: Poems; Page After Page, a memoir of the writing life; and Spike and Cubby's Ice Cream Island Adventure, a children's book.

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Table of Contents


Introduction for Students

What Creative Writers Do

Questions Creative Writers Ask

The Four Parts of Creative Writing


1. Finding Focus

The Mind's Eye

Subject: Focus on What?

Practicing Focus

Lack of Focus

Writing Projects

2. Writing and Reading

Reading Work in Progress

Reading Finished Work

Types of Creative Writing

Reading to Write: The Art of Imitation

Writing Projects


James Tate,
Consolations After an Affair (poetry)

Ellen Bryant Voigt,
Winter Field (poetry)

Lorraine L--pez, The Night Aliens in a White Van Kidnapped My Teenage Son Near the Baptist Church Parking Lot (fiction)

Kathleen Norris, Rain (nonfiction)

Sebastian Matthews, Buying Wine (poetry)

Gevorg Emin, The Question Mark (poetry)

A. Van Jordan, Af • ter • glow (poetry)

Jamaica Kincaid, Girl (fiction)

Anna Deavere Smith, From Twilight: Los Angeles: 1992 (drama)

Art Spiegelman,
From Maus (comic)

Amy Fusselman, From The Pharmacist's Mate (nonfiction)


3. Energy

The Principles of Energy

Manipulating Energy

Troubleshooting: Energy

Writing Projects

Energy Workshop


Beth Ann Fennelly, From The Impossibility of Language (poetry)

Rick Moody, Boys (fiction)

Robert Morgan, Squirt Gun (poetry)

Brian Arundel, The Things I've Lost (nonfiction)

4. Images

The Principles of Images

Creating With Images

A Word on Ideas

Writing Projects

Images Workshop


Rita Dove, Driving Through (poetry)

Akhil Sharma,
Surrounded by Sleep (fiction)

Gary Soto, Everything Twice (poetry)

Aleida Rodr'guez,
My Mother in Two Photographs, Among Other Things (nonfiction)

Anne Panning, Candy Cigarettes (fiction)

5. Tension

The Principles of Tension

Maintaining Tension

Manipulating Tension

Writing Projects

Tension Workshop


Marisa Silver, What I Saw From Where I Stood (fiction)

Thomas Lux,
The Man Into Whose Yard You Should Not Hit Your Ball (poetry)

Jessica Shattuck,
Bodies (fiction)

Peter Morris, Pancakes (drama)

Ethan Canin, Fly-fishing for Doctors (nonfiction)

6. Pattern

Pattern by Ear

Ofelia Zepeda, Her Hair Is Her Dress (poetry)

E.E. Cummings, Me up at does (poetry)

Pattern by Eye

Layering Patterns

Writing Projects

Pattern Workshop


Mary Paumier Jones, The Opposite of Saffron (nonfiction)

Carolyn Kizer, Parents' Pantoum (poetry)

Lorrie Moore, How to Become a Writer (fiction)

Marie Howe, The Boy (poetry)

7. Insight

Principles of Insight

Ways to be Wise: Creating Insight

Ways to Be Unwise: What Not to Do

Writing Projects

Insight Workshop


Michael Cunningham, White Angel (fiction)

Marianne Boruch, Bad Cello (poetry)

Lynne McMahon,
Carpe Diem (poetry)

Adam Gopnik, The Last of the Metrozoids (nonfiction)

Migdalia Cruz, From Telling Tales (drama)

Billy Collins, Introduction to Poetry (poetry)

8. Structure: Elements


Parts of Narrative

Parts of Poems

Gwendolyn Brooks, We Real Cool

Beth Bachmann, Colorization

Writing Projects

Structure Workshop


Raymond Carver, Cathedral (fiction)

Richard Rodriguez, Proofs (nonfiction)

Timothy Liu, In Hot Pursuit (poetry)

9. Structure: Forms

Forms for Any Genre

Forms for Poems

Peter Meinke, Atomic Pantoum

Ellen DorŽ Watson, Ghazal

Wesli Court, The Obsession

Dylan Thomas, Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night

Writing Projects

Forms Workshop


Naomi Shihab Nye, How to Get There (nonfiction)

Dana Levin, Techno (poetry)

Michael Chabon,
Along the Frontage Road (fiction)

Sharon Olds,
Visiting My Mother's College (poetry)

Dinty W. Moore, Son of Mr. Green Jeans: An Essay on Fatherhood, Alphabetically Arranged (nonfiction)

David Lehman,
Abecedarius (poetry)

Diane Wakoski,
Sestina to the Common Glass of Beer: I Do Not Drink Beer (poetry)

John Yau, Chinese Villanelle (poetry)


10. Revision

Conquering Your Fear of Revision

Principles of Revision

Revision Tools


Revise Your Writing Life

11. Publication

Public Readings

Literary Magazines

Chapbooks and Portfolios

12. Resources for Writers

Websites for Writers

Writing Magazines


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  • Posted February 8, 2010

    Practice or Creative Writing.

    It is sad when you want to read your textbook. When you laugh at the bad jokes and want to do the assignments. This textbook keeps you thinking in the best of ways. I do not suggest reading all of it in one night, your head WILL hurt, but a chapter every few days is wonderful. I have gotten many many ideas from reading through this book. Love it.

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