Hampton Roads Writers

Resource Books for Fiction Writers

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Self-Editing for Fiction Writers, Second Edition: How to Edit Yourself Into Print

Renni Browne and Dave King
ISBN: 0060545690, Paperback - 11.16 BUY

There's not much of the old-style editing going on at publishing houses today. Renni Browne, veteran of William Morrow and other publishers, founded the Editorial Department in 1980 to teach fiction writers the techniques professional editors (many of whom have gone independent) use to prepare a manuscript for publication. In this book, she and senior editor Dave King share their accumulated expertise in a series of brilliantly compact lessons. One page from their simply and markedly improved version of a scene from The Great Gatsby alone would make a compelling advertisement for their techniques. Very highly recommended.

Gotham Writers' Workshop Writing Fiction

ISBN: 1582343306, Paperback - 10.17 BUY

The faculty of the Gotham Writers' Workshop use an original approach in this how-to: Raymond Carver's classic story "Cathedral" (reprinted in the book) serves as a basis for their discussion of technique. The contributors are not household names, but all are published authors of fiction. Chapters touch on all the essentials: character development, pacing, dialogue and revision ("Real Writers Revise" the chapter title exhorts). All expand on the idea that "good writing comes down to craft far more than most people realize," while also reminding aspiring authors that "rules are made to be broken." The writing is fresh and full of concrete advice (e.g., "Desire is in the heart of every dimensional character"), and exercises allow students to explore what they have learned. This is an excellent starting place for someone exploring the art and craft of writing fiction.

Narrative Design: A Writer's Guide to Structure

Madison Smartt Bell
ISBN: 0393971236, Paperback - 8.85 BUY

Rare it is to find an examination of the workings of the short story so diligent and loving as Madison Smartt Bell's in Narrative Design. According to Bell--a creative writing instructor and very fine fiction writer--"form or structure ... is of first and final importance to any work of fiction." Here, Bell scrutinizes the underlying architecture of 12 short stories--some by his students, others by the likes of Mary Gaitskill and William T. Vollmann. Bell is unstoppable, his discussion of the stories usually longer than the stories themselves. Every structural twist and turn is inspected, so that by tale's end we're reminded of those poor little frogs pinned for sixth-grade dissection, no bone left unturned.

Narrative Design: Working with Imagination, Craft, and Form

Madison Smartt Bell
ISBN: 0393320219, Paperback - 12.21 BUY

Madison Smartt Bell's Narrative Design is one of those books you might need to take with you to your writerly desert isle. It offers all of the essential instructions for writing fiction, as well as providing wonderful examples of the end product, and then supplying brilliant analysis of them. His is a thorough, fascinating, forgiving, good-hearted, unique, and - most impressively - useful book.

The Art of Fiction: Notes on Craft for Young Writers

John Gardner
ISBN: 0679734031, Paperback - 9.71 BUY

"John Gardner was famous for his generosity to young writers, and (this book) is his . . . gift to them. The Art of Fiction will fascinate anyone interested in how fiction gets put together. For the young writer, it will become a necessary handbook, a stern judge, an encouraging friend."--The New York Times Book Review.

By Cunning & Craft--Sound Advice and Practical Wisdom for Fiction Writers

Peter Selgin
ISBN: 1582974918, Hardcover - 15.59 BUY

With precise instruction and examples from classic and best-selling works, this authoritative guide helps you master the ten essential fiction-writing elements: inspiration; character; point of view; structure and plot; theme; dialogue; description; scenes, summary, and flashback; voice and style; and revision.

Writing Fiction: A Guide to Narrative Craft

Janet Burroway
ISBN: 0321277368, Paperback - 66.40 BUY

A bestseller through six editions, Writing Fiction by novelists Janet Burroway and Elizabeth Stuckey-French 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 writers 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 every chapter in the belief that the reading of inspiring fiction goes hand-in-hand with the writing of fresh and exciting stories. Thorough and practical discussions of all the major fictional elements offer students a comprehensive guide to the craft of writing stories. Topics include freewriting, plot, style, characterization, dialogue, time, place, imagery, and point of view. For novice writers looking to develop proficiency.

Imaginative Writing: The Elements of Craft

Janet Burroway
ISBN: 032135740X, Paperback - 40.00 BUY

Written by best-selling author Janet Burroway, Imaginative Writing — an introduction to creative writing — covers all four genres: creative nonfiction, fiction, poetry, and drama. Imaginative Writing discusses elements of craft common to all creative writing before delving into the individual genres. Each of the first five chapters investigates a specific element of craft–Image, Voice, Character, Setting, and Story–from a perspective that crosses all genres. Chapter 6 explores development and revision and serves as a bridge between the craft chapters and genre chapters. The last four chapters examine individual genres: Creative Nonfiction, Fiction, Poetry, and Drama. This unique organization allows students to experiment with creative techniques shared by all genres before deciding which form best suits their imagination. Unique "Try-This" exercises help students develop writing skills, while new “Working Toward a Draft” exercises encourage students to think ahead about the direction and possibilities of their work. Aspiring creative writers — of creative nonfiction, poetry, fiction, or drama.

From Where You Dream: The Process of Writing Fiction

Robert Olen Butler and Janet Burroway
ISBN: 0802142575, Paperback - 10.40 BUY

From Publishers Weekly Starred Review. Pulitzer-winning novelist Butler (Had a Good Time, etc.) teaches a creative writing class at known as "boot camp" because of the intense creative demands he places on students. This series of lectures (edited by Burroway, a graduate of the class) deftly conveys the intensity of the class as Butler exhorts students to get out of their heads and into the world of the senses ("Artists are not intellectuals. We are sensualists...."), which he posits as the seat of the emotions. Butler's emphasis on sense memories recalls Method acting, and like Stanislavsky, Butler most highly values work with deep emotional connections and rich "organic coherence" at every level. Identify your character's yearning, he says: plot "represents the dynamics of desire." Butler has little to offer anyone hoping to write the sort of commercial fiction he regards as "non-literature." But in illuminating his approach to fiction, Butler can be equally hard on his own work, and discusses various issues by analyzing its faults—for instance, that good dialogue isn't expository, it has subtext. To illustrate his positive points, he draws on works ranging from Margaret Atwood's to the Old Testament. The book also features works by students and thoughtful class discussions of them, and closes with Butler's story "Open Arms," discussed in earlier sections. Butler shares his insights into—and passion for—the creation and experience of fiction with total openness, and seriously aspiring writers should receive this text/manifesto in the same light. Agent, Kim Witherspoon. (Apr.) Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

The Writer's Toolbox: Creative Games and Exercises for Inspiring the 'Write' Side of Your Brain

Jamie Cat Callan
ISBN: 0811854299, Paperback - 16.47 BUY

Designed by a longtime creative writing teacher, this innovative kit includes a 64-page booklet filled with exercises and instructions that focus on a "right-brain" approach to writing. Sixty exercise sticks First Sentences, Non Sequiturs, and Last Straws will get stories off the ground, 60 cards fuel creative descriptions, and four spinner palettes will ignite unexpected plot twists. For any aspiring writer, this kit is the perfect first step on the path to literary greatness!

Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life

Anne Lamott
ISBN: 0385480016, Paperback - 11.16 BUY

Lamott will help you find your passion and your voice, beginning from the first really crummy draft to the peculiar letdown of publication.

What if? Writing Exercises for Fiction Writers

Anne Bernays and Pamela Painter
ISBN: 0321107179, Paperback - 40.85 BUY

This how-to-write fiction book is comprised primarily of exercises introduced by brief but informative essays on the aspects of fiction. Long on specifics and short on theoretical information so often found in books about the art of writing, this text provides a practical, hands-on approach to writing fiction. Organized by the elements of fiction and concluded by an anthology of contemporary fiction, this book helps all fiction writers hone and improve their craft. The elements of fiction—character, point of view, dialogue, plot, style and revision. For those interested in improving fiction-writing skills.

The First Five Pages: A Writer's Guide to Staying Out of the Rejection Pile

Noah Lukeman
ISBN: 068485743X, Paperback - 11.16 BUY

The difference between The First Five Pages and most books on writing is that the others are written by teachers and writers. This one comes from a literary agent--one whose clients include Pulitzer Prize nominees, New York Times bestselling authors, Pushcart Prize recipients, and American Book Award winners. Noah Lukeman is not trying to impart the finer points of writing well. He wants to teach you "how to identify and avoid bad writing," so that your manuscript doesn't come boomeranging back to you in that self-addressed, stamped envelope. Surprise: Agents and editors don't read manuscripts for fun; they are looking for reasons to reject them. Lukeman has arranged his book "in the order of what I look for when trying to dismiss a manuscript," starting with presentation and concluding with pacing and progression. Each chapter addresses a pitfall of poor writing--overabundance of adjectives and adverbs, tedious or unrealistic dialogue, and lack of subtlety to name just a few--by identifying the problem, presenting solutions, giving examples (one wishes these weren't quite so obvious), and offering writing exercises. It's a little bizarre to think about approaching your work as would an agent, but if you are serious about getting published, you may as well get used to it. Plus, Lukeman has plenty of solid advice worth listening to. Particularly fine are his exercises for removing and spicing up modifiers and his remedies for all kinds of faulty dialogue.

Beginnings, Middles and Ends

Nancy Kress
ISBN: 0898799058, Paperback - 10.19 BUY

Writing Down the Bones

Natalie Goldberg
ISBN: 1590303164, Paperback - 8.95 BUY

Wherein we discover that many of the "rules" for good writing and good sex are the same: Keep your hand moving, lose control, and don't think. Goldberg brings a touch of both Zen and well... *eroticism* to her writing practice, the latter in exercises and anecdotes designed to ease you into your body, your whole spirit, while you create, the former in being where you are, working with what you have, and writing from the moment.

On Writing--A memoir of the Craft

Stephen King
ISBN: 0743455967, Paperback - 7.99 BUY

Writing the Breakout Novel

Donald Maass
ISBN: 158297182X, Paperback - 11.55 BUY

In today's world, an author who doesn't produce a breakout novel risks getting lost in the midlist of the publishing world. Maass, the author of 17 novels who now works as a literary agent representing such distinguished writers as Anne Perry and James Patterson, knows firsthand what makes a novel rise above its category in the already saturated book market. Using his own clients as case studies, Maass defines the most crucial elements of a breakout novel a powerful sense of time and place, larger-than-life characters, a high degree of tension, good subplots, and universal themes and shows the reader how to use these elements efficiently to write a novel that will generate interest and have the potential to hit the best sellers lists. Each section ends with checklists for review.

The Writers Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers, 3rd Edition [ILLUSTRATED]

Christopher Vogler
ISBN: 193290736X, Paperback - Available new and used from 17.79 BUY

The updated and revised third edition provides new insights and observations from Vogler's ongoing work on mythology's influence on stories, movies, and man himself. The previous two editons of this book have sold over 180,000 units, making this book a 'classic' for screenwriters, writers, and novelists.

The Glimmer Train Guide to Writing Fiction: Building Blocks

Susan Burmeister-Brown (Editor), Linda B. Swanson-Davies (Editor)
ISBN: 1582974462, Hardcover - 13.59 BUY

In this exquisite new series from the nation’s leading short fiction literary journal, accomplished authors offer advice and instruction on fiction writing and the fiction writing life that speaks to writers of all experience levels. Compiled from the best of Glimmer Train’s "Writers Ask" quarterly newsletter, this volume contains useful techniques, informed perspectives, and inspired nudges from a wealth of accomplished writers including Margaret Atwood, Ernest Gaines, Julia Alvarez, Jamaica Kincaid, Stephen Dixon, Mary McGarry Morris, and more.

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