Writing Fiction: A Guide to Narrative Craft / Edition 6

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The most widely used and respected book on writing fiction, Writing Fiction guides the writer from first inspiration to final revision. Supported by an abundance exercises, this guide/anthology explores and integrates the elements of fiction while offering practical techniques and concrete examples. A focus on the writing process in its entirety provides a comprehensive guide to writing fiction, approaching distinct elements in separate chapters while building on what has been covered earlier. Topics include free-writing to revision, plot, style, characterization, dialogue, atmosphere, imagery, and point of view. An anthology of diverse and contemporary short stories followed by suggestions for discussion and writing exercises, illustrates concepts while offering variety in pacing and exposure to this increasingly popular form. The book also discusses key issues including writing workshops, using autobiography as a basis for fiction, using action in stories, using dialogue, and maintaining point of view. The sixth edition also features more short short stories than any previous edition and includes quotation boxes that offer advice and inspirational words from established writers on a wide range of topics—such as writing from experience, story structure, openings and endings, and revision. For those interested in developing their creative writing skills.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780321117953
  • Publisher: Pearson
  • Publication date: 7/10/2002
  • Edition description: Older Edition
  • Edition number: 6
  • Pages: 430
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.16 (h) x 0.85 (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



To Instructors: About This Book.

To Students: About The Workshop.

1. WHATEVER WORKS: The Writing Process.
Get Started.
Journal Keeping.
The Computer.
The Critic: A Caution.
Choosing A Subject.
Keep Going.
A Word About Theme.

Shitty First Drafts, Anne Lamott.
American History, Judith Ortiz Cofer.

Writing Assignments.

2. The Tower And The Net: Story Form, Plot, And Structure.
Conflict, Crisis, And Resolution.
Connection And Disconnection.
Story Form As A Check Mark.
Story And Plot.
The Short Story And The Novel.
Reading As Writers.

The Use Of Force, William Carlos Williams.
How Far She Went, Mary Hood.
Silver Water, Amy Bloom.
Happy Endings, Margaret Atwood.
Girl, Jamaica Kincaid.
No One's A Mystery, Elizabeth Tallent.
20/20, Linda Brewer.

Writing Assignments.

3. SEEING IS BELIEVING: Showing And Telling.
Significant Detail.
The Active Voice.
Prose Rhythm.

Linoleum Roses, Sandra Cisneros.
The Things They Carried, Tim O'Brien.
Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been? Joyce Carol Oates.

Writing Assignments.

4. BUILDING CHARACTER: Characterization, Part I.
The Indirect Methods Of CharacterPresentation.
Authorial Interpretation.
Interpretation By Another Character.

Yours, Mary Robison.
Gryphon, Charles Baxter.
The Visible Man, Elizabeth Stuckey-French.

Writing Assignments.

5. The Flesh Made Word: Characterization, Part II.
The Direct Methods Of Character Presentation.
Format And Style.
Text And Subtext.
Conflict Between Methods Of Presentation.
Creating A Group Or Crowd.
Character: A Summary.

Hills Like White Elephants, Ernest Hemingway.
Aren't You Happy For Me? Richard Bausch.

Writing Assignments.

6. Long Ago And Far Away: Fictional Place And Time.
Setting And Atmosphere.
Harmony And Conflict Between Character And Background.
Setting And Character.
Setting And Emotion.
Symbolic And Suggestive Setting.
Alien And Familiar Setting.
An Exercise In Setting.
Some Aspects Of Narrative Time.
Summary And Scene.
Revising Summary And Scene.
Slow Motion.
Further Thoughts On Openings And Endings.

Mount Olive, Monifa Love.
Dark Corner, Robert Morgan.
To Da-Duh, In Memoriam, Paule Marshall.
Which Is More Than I Can Say About Some People, Lorrie Moore.
Bullet In The Brain, Tobias Wolff.

Writing Assignments.

7. Call Me Ishmael: Point Of View, Part I.
Who Speaks?
Third Person.
Second Person.
First Person.
To Whom?
The Reader.
Another Character.
The Self.
In What Form?

Orientation, Daniel Orozco.
The Comedian, John L'Heureux.
Lectures On How You Never Lived Back Home, Evelina Galang.

Writing Assignments.

8. Assorted Liars: Point Of View, Part II.
At What Distance?
Spatial And Temporal Distance.
With What Limitations?
The Unreliable Narrator.
An Exercise In Unreliability.
Unreliability In Other Viewpoints.

Story, Lydia Davis.
Snow, Julia Alvarez.
Beautiful My Mane In The Wind, Catherine Petroski.
Jealous Husband Returns In Form Of Parrot, Robert Olen Butler.
Who's Irish? Gish Jen.
Screentime, Stephen Jones.

Writing Assignments.

9. Is And Is Not: Comparison.
Types Of Metaphor And Simile.
Metaphoric Faults To Avoid.

San Lan, Samantha Chang.
Menagerie, Charles Johnson.
Eyes Of A Blue Dog, Gabriel Garcia Marquez.

Writing Assignments.

10. I Gotta Use Words When I Talk To You: Theme.
Idea And Morality In Theme.
How Fictional Elements Contribute To Theme.

A Man Told Me The Story Of His Life, Grace Paley.

Developing Theme As You Write.
Ralph The Duck, Frederick Busch.
Wave, John Holman.
This Is What It Means To Say Phoenix, Arizona, Sherman Alexie.

Writing Assignments.

11. Play It Again, Sam: Revision.
Worry It And Walk Away.
Revision Questions.
Further Suggestions For Revision.
Examples Of The Revision Process.

Dud, Pamela Painter.

Writing Assignments.

Appendix A: Kinds Of Fiction.

Appendix B: Suggestions For Further Reading.



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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 26, 2008

    A Core Book for Serious Writers

    I have hundreds of books on writing, but Burroway's book is a core book for anyone who's serious about writing. It covers everything, is both practical in its instruction and inspirational when you see just how everything can come together to create a good story. I use this book over and over to remind myself of key features. I have a few favorites out of my big collection, and this is definitely one of them! It's expensive, but worth it. Get it, even used--the way I got it. You won't regret it.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 23, 2001

    The classic text

    This book covers it all--and well. Used in colleges around the country, it explains fictional techniques and how to write stories. I particularly like the exerpts and examples from noted authors used to illustrate each section.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 30, 2003

    Great guide!

    This book helped me to greatly improve my fiction writing. A wonderful help for making your stories sound like the greats!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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    Posted August 20, 2011

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 12, 2011

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