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Writing Fiction: A Guide to Narrative Craft / Edition 9

Writing Fiction: A Guide to Narrative Craft / Edition 9

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The most widely used and respected text in its field, Writing Fiction, Ninth Edition guides the novice story writer from first inspiration to final revision.

A bestseller through eight editions, Writing Fiction explores the elements of fiction, providing practical writing techniques and concrete examples. Written in a tone that is personal and non-prescriptive, the text encourages students to develop proficiency through each step of the writing process, offering an abundance of exercises designed to spur writing and creativity. The text also integrates diverse, contemporary short stories in the belief that the reading of inspiring fiction goes hand-in-hand with the writing of fresh and exciting stories.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780321923165
Publisher: Pearson
Publication date: 02/06/2014
Pages: 400
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.80(d)

About 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 other publications include a collection of personal essays, Embalming Mom, in addition to a volume of poetry, Material Goods, and three children’s books in verse, The Truck on the Track, The Giant Jam Sandwich, and The Perfect Pig. Her 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 New York, London, San Francisco, Hollywood, Chicago, and various regional theaters. Her textbook Writing Fiction, now in its ninth edition, is the most widely used creative writing text in the United States. Her most recent books are a memoir, Losing Tim, and a collection of essays she has edited, A Story Larger Than My Own: Women Writers Look Back on Their Lives and Careers. She is Robert O. Lawton Distinguished Professor Emerita at the Florida State University in Tallahassee and has most recently taught in the MFA Program in Creative Writing at Northwestern University.

ELIZABETH STUCKEY-FRENCH, Associate Professor, MFA Iowa Writers Workshop (1992), specializes in fiction. She was a James A. Michener Fellow at the University of Iowa and is the author of a short story collection, The First Paper Girl in Red Oak, Iowa, and two novels, The Revenge of the Radioactive Lady and Mermaids on the Moon. Her stories have appeared in The Atlantic Monthly, The Gettysburg Review,The Southern Review, Five Points, and other literary journals. In 2005, she received an O. Henry Award for the story "Mudlavia," cited by juror Richard Russo as "favorite story."

NED STUCKEY-FRENCH, Assistant Professor, B. A., magna cum laude, Harvard College (1972), M.A., Brown University (1992), Ph. D., University of Iowa (1997). Dr. Stuckey-French specializes in the personal essay and modern American literature and culture, especially magazine culture. His study of magazine culture and class construction entitled The American Essay in the American Century is forthcoming from the University of Missouri Press. He is also editing (with Carl Klaus) a collection of essays on the essay, which includes work from Montaigne to the present, and it will appear from the University of Iowa Press.
His reviews and critical work have appeared in journals such as American Literature, The CEA Critic, Modern Fiction Studies, Fourth Genre, culturefront, and The Iowa Review, and in The Scribner Encyclopedia of American Lives, The Walt Whitman Encyclopedia and The Encyclopedia of the Essay.
He also writes creative nonfiction and is the book review editor for the journal Fourth Genre. His essays, which have appeared in magazines such as In These Times, The Missouri Review, The Pinch, and Walking Magazine, have been listed three times among the notable essays in the Best American Essays series. He is working on a memoir of his ten years as a trade union organizer in a Boston hospital.

Table of Contents

1 Whatever Works: The Writing Process

Get Started

Journal Keeping



The Computer

The Critic: A Caution

Choosing a Subject

The Dilemma, or Catch-22

The Incongruity

The Connection

The Memory

The Transplant.

The Revenge

Keep Going

A Word About Theme

Reading as Writers

About the Writing Workshop

How Workshops Work

The Writer’s Role

Writing Exercises

2 Seeing Is Believing: Showing and Telling

Significant Detail

Writing About Emotion



Types Of Metaphor And Simile

Metaphoric Faults To Avoid

The Active Voice

Prose Rhythm


We Didn’t


Goal 666

Stacey Richter

Binocular Vision

Edith Pearlman

Writing Exercises

3 Building Character: Characterization, Part I

The Direct Methods of Character Presentation


Summary, Indirect, and Direct Dialogue

Economy in Dialogue

Characterizing Dialogue

Other Uses of Dialogue

Dialogue as Action

Text and Subtext

“No” Dialogue



Format and Style


Fiesta, 1980

Junot Díaz

Every Tongue Shall Confess



Denis Johnson

Writing Exercises

4 The Flesh Made Word: Characterization, Part II

The Direct Methods of Character Presentation




The Indirect Methods of Character Presentation

Authorial Interpretation

Interpretation By Another Character

Conflict Between Methods of Presentation

The Universal Paradox





Reinventing Character

Creating a Group or Crowd

The Character Journal

Character: A Summary

Bullet in the Brain

Tobias Wolff

Tandolfo the Great

Richard Bausch


Sandra Cisneros

Writing Exercises

5 Far, Far Away: Fictional Place

Place and Atmosphere

Harmony and Conflict Between Character and Place

Place and Character

Place and Emotion

Symbolic and Suggestive Place

Alien and Familiar Place

An Exercise in Place

St. Lucy’s Home for Girls Raised by Wolves

Karen Russell

The Flowers

Alice Walker

A Visit of Charity

Eudora Welty

Writing Exercises

6 Long Ago: Fictional Time

Summary and Scene

Revising Summary and Scene


Slow Motion

You’re Ugly, Too

Lorrie Moore

The Fun House

Sherman Alexie


Hannah Bottomy Voskuil

Writing Exercises

7 The Tower And The Net: Story Form, Plot, and Structure

Conflict, Crisis, and Resolution

The Arc of the Story

Patterns of Power

Connection and Disconnection

Story Form as an Inverted Check Mark

Story and Plot

The Short Story and the Novel

Types of Fiction


Joy Williams


Geoffrey Forsyth

Everything That Rises Must Converge


Writing Exercises

8 Call Me Ishmael: Point of View

Who Speaks?

Third Person


Limited Omniscience

The Objective Author

Second Person

First Person

To Whom?

The Reader

Another Character

The Self

Interior Monologue

Stream of Consciousness

In What Form?

At What Distance?

Consistency: A Final Caution

Victory Lap

George Saunders

No One's a Mystery

Elizabeth Tallent

Reply All

Robin Hemley

Writing Exercises

9 Play it Again, Sam: Revision


Worry it and Walk Away

Criticism and the Story Workshop

Asking the Big Question: What Have I Written?

How Fictional Elements Contribute to Theme

Revision Questions

Further Suggestions for Revision

Examples of the Revision Process


Pia Z. Ehrhardt

Following the Notes

Pia Z. Ehrhardt

Writing Exercises

Appendix: What Next? Professionalism and Literary Citizenship


Customer Reviews

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Writing Fiction: A Guide to Narrative Craft 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 10 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book helped me to greatly improve my fiction writing. A wonderful help for making your stories sound like the greats!
UtopianElle on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This text can be a bit overwhelming and unapproachable at first. It is rather dense. However, once you get acquainted with the setup it is a great fiction writing guide. The book is filled with different prompts and exercises, which is great. However, to me, the best part of the text is the thoughtful selection of excerpts and writing examples.
bexaplex on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Writing Fiction is the Platonic form of college writing textbooks: dense, intellectual, and packed with critically-acclaimed writing to illustrate the points that Burroway is making.
aethercowboy on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Burroway provides plenty of insight to the aspiring writer. In this book, you'll find all sorts of helpful gems of writing, including examples and exercises. This book is a boon to almost anybody who wants to pick up the pen and write some quality prose (hint from the book: your first draft will and should suck).Great for any writers wanting to hone their craft.
PeterClack on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is a very good guide to the person thinking about how to write fiction. Follow the steps outlined in the book and you should be able to come up with something presentable.
THHernandez More than 1 year ago
This is a comprehensive book on craft that starts with the basics and works deeper with solid examples that drive the point home. With detailed chapters on the process of writing, showing vs. telling, and creating three-dimensional characters and settings, this may be the penultimate book for beginning writers. Even intermediate writers will find reminders about all the things we're doing wrong that we knew were wrong, but forgot we were doing. Filled with vivid examples to illustrate every lesson, the book even has a few things for more seasoned writers. New writers often have the hardest time grasping the concept of showing vs. telling, and this section in Writing Fiction is one of the best yet I've read, teaching the difference between the two with well-written examples perfectly re-written to ensure the lesson is learned. The section on characterization is exceptionally thorough, delving into great detail on what makes good characters and what makes great characters. All stories need good characters, but the best stories have great characters. With about one-third examples and writing exercises and two-thirds instruction, I firmly believe this is the first book every aspiring fiction writer should pick up and study. Bottom Line Writing Fiction is expensive, but worth every penny. This is the textbook every aspiring novelist needs to read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago