Ron Carlson Writes a Story

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Overview

Ron Carlson has been praised as “a master of the short story” (Booklist). In this essay collection, Ron Carlson Writes a Story, he offers a full range of notes and gives rare insight into a veteran writer’s process by inviting the reader to watch over his shoulder as he creates the short story “The Governor’s Ball.”

“This is a story of a story” he begins, and proceeds to offer practical advice for creating a great story, from the first glimmer of an idea to the final sentence. Carlson urges the writer to refuse ...

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Overview

Ron Carlson has been praised as “a master of the short story” (Booklist). In this essay collection, Ron Carlson Writes a Story, he offers a full range of notes and gives rare insight into a veteran writer’s process by inviting the reader to watch over his shoulder as he creates the short story “The Governor’s Ball.”

“This is a story of a story” he begins, and proceeds to offer practical advice for creating a great story, from the first glimmer of an idea to the final sentence. Carlson urges the writer to refuse the outside distractions—a second cup of coffee, a troll through the dictionary—and attend to the necessity of uncertainty, the pleasures of an unfolding story.

“The Governor’s Ball”—included in its entirety—serves as a fascinating illustration of the detailed anatomy of a short story.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Do yourself a favor and read Ron Carlson." —Stephen King
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781555974770
  • Publisher: Graywolf Press
  • Publication date: 9/4/2007
  • Pages: 112
  • Sales rank: 209,005
  • Product dimensions: 5.27 (w) x 8.44 (h) x 0.35 (d)

Meet the Author

Ron Carlson is the author of several books of fiction, including Five Skies. He directs the graduate program in fiction at the University of California, Irvine.

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Read an Excerpt

It would be strange to get in the car and think you were going to pick up the kids at school, but not be really sure. But there are moments in the process of writing a story when you must tolerate that uncomfortable feeling: You stay alert to everything that is happening and by listening and watching, you find out where you are going by going there. Somebody else may get in the car.

—from "Ron Carlson Writes a Story"

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted December 29, 2010

    Staying in the Room - Follow Ron Carlson's lead!

    "Staying in the room" was the phrase that hooked me into buying this book. As Ron Carlson defines it, it's not giving in to the compulsion to go get a cup of coffee when you've written as far into the story as you know. In the next twenty minutes from that urge, the best part of writing happens. "Stay in the room" and write what materializes. Along with that observation, he gives a dozen other suggestions, some of them somewhat surprising. A few: "I write from my experience, whether I've had them or not," and "You can actually write a story without knowing the ending," and "The single advantage a veteran writer has over a beginner is this tolerance for not knowing." He asserts that "the room" is for the author only, not the audience (!) or references or other constraints. By not having to compromise with an imagined audience, the characters are allowed to evolve in real ways that the subconscious will dictate.
    Okay, this is obviously a "how-to" book, but how hard is it to plow through? I started this book with a pencil in hand to star and notate important ideas (I hoped to get a few). But I found myself reading way beyond and into the next chapter before pausing. Ron Carlson is just plain fun. With an entertaining style, he leaves room for disagreement, and room to read his mind. Literally. That's his format-writing about what he's thinking when he's writing. He shows how riveting his story is to him personally, and what he does when he runs out of ideas. He comes up with "inventory" to run the story forward and makes characters "earn" their place. By the time I went back and wrote in the margins, he had me believing that I could write too. If that isn't compelling, I don't know what is. Not only do I recommend Ron Carlson Writes a Story, but I'm reading it again! Good stuff.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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