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Alone With All That Could Happen: Rethinking Conventional Wisdom about the Craft of Fiction

4.33  ·  Rating Details ·  140 Ratings  ·  18 Reviews
In a satisfying story or novel, all of the pieces seem to fit together so effortlessly, so seamlessly, that it's easy to find yourself wondering, "How on earth did the author do this?" The answer is simple: He sat alone at his desk, considered an array of options, and made smart, careful choices.

In Alone With All That Could Happen, award-winning author and respected creati

Hardcover, 256 pages
Published July 8th 2008 by Writer's Digest Books
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Chris Blocker
Nov 08, 2011 Chris Blocker rated it it was amazing
So you want to be a writer? Don't read this book.

Alone With All That Could Happen is a wonderful, well thought out collection of essays on fiction writing, but it is not a “how to” guide or a simple refresher course. It is more akin to a work of philosophy than a primer for the contemporary author. It asks tough questions about the constraints modern writers have put on themselves and explores in depth alternatives to the “conventional wisdom.”

As someone who has been writing fiction for half my
Sep 07, 2008 Kathi rated it it was amazing
David Jauss is a wonderful author and a master teacher. This collection of essays, which were originally presented as lectures at Vermont College of Fine Arts, is both thought-provoking and useful.

For myself, the second essay, which addresses point of view, came at just the right moment as I muck my way through the work in progress that keeps slipping between my fingers.

Way more than a craft book, this intelligent collection will prod writers to push against the prescriptive rules that so much
Aug 17, 2012 Alonzo rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: writers
I just finished this; there is much to absorb, but for starters Jauss, as is hinted at in the subtitle, comes at writing from a different angle. At least one I haven't seen. There are several chapters dealing with many aspects of writing, but none of it is prescriptive: I loved that.

Not that I dislike prescriptive books on writing. They have their place. But, sometimes, you have to be reminded why you're doing this (beyond the "I just have to write" thing). Jauss shows some ways to make the con
Jan 19, 2009 Erin rated it it was amazing
David Jauss's book is a true treasure for writers. This is absolutely one of the best books I've read on writing fiction. The book is informed by 30+ years of teaching, writing and editing, and as such, it provides a window into all that is good about contemporary fiction--and much that is assumed, and can use improvement. At one point, Jauss mentions that in his years of teaching/editing, he has read upwards of 40,000 short stories submitted to a literary journal or for a creative writing class ...more
Megan Hewins
May 06, 2013 Megan Hewins rated it it was amazing
Jauss fulfills the title and challenges conventional thinking toward fiction writing. He applies logic and patience to the jumbled hairball of contradictory information that students of writing are inundated with.

The majority of books on writing tend to forget about craft and focus more on inspiration. Inspiration is all well and good, but the more books on writing I read, the more I conclude that the inspirational writers really don't know how to teach craft. Jauss uses examples from the crème
Kevin Brown
Aug 06, 2011 Kevin Brown rated it liked it
I'm not a fiction writer, but I read this for my MFA, as I'm working on a series of poems with a recurring character. Thus, my mentor thought a fiction book would help. The two best chapters for me were the ones on epiphanies and ordering a collection of stories (which clearly relates to poems, as well, of course). Not surprisingly, it also helped me think differently about the fiction I read, especially when it comes to point of view, which Jauss discusses in a very different way than most peop ...more
Sep 09, 2008 Sarah rated it it was amazing
This is a great book for writers. These essays are based on lectures from Vermont College's MFA program.

My personal favorites: Jauss-POV; Rossini-Revisionary; Glover-Structure; Alberts-Show/tell; Ven Winckel-Titles; Silverman-non-fiction genres.
But all the essays are incredible.

This is one of my best writing books. It sits on my bookshelf next to Burroway.
Catherine Austen
Jan 10, 2014 Catherine Austen rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: writers and readers of literary fiction
Shelves: non-fiction
I read an armful of writing craft books over the holidays and this was by far my fave. If you want to read about literature, and to improve your writing of it, and you're weary of compilations of tips or advice that makes the creative process feel factory-produced, then try this book. It may inspire you and help free your mind, get you to rethink elements like point of view and rhythm, take your work more seriously and work harder at it.

If you are working toward a collection of short fiction, be
Nov 03, 2009 Amanda rated it really liked it
I mainly bought this book to read one essay: "Some Epiphanies about Epiphanies," which was interesting and treated ephiphanies from a few stories I've read, including Joyce and O'Connor. His argument would be an interesting discussion to apply to YA/MG books....
He's also got a couple other essays I'm interested in reading, eventually: "What we talk about when we talk about flow," (Jauss is a fan of Raymond Carver, it seems), "From long shots to X-Rays: Distance and Point of view in fiction", and
Sep 09, 2008 Kari rated it it was amazing
Shelves: reference, vcfa
These brilliant essays will sink in, in layers, I think. There’s so much here to think about that I’d like to read one every so often in the hopes that they’ll sink in. I loved the last essay, in particular, about Janusian thinking as it relates to literature: the advantage and maybe necessity in thinking in contradictions.
Kali VanBaale
Jan 31, 2012 Kali VanBaale rated it it was amazing
Another book on the craft of fiction writing I can't recommend enough. Jauss takes much of what writers are generically taught early on and turns it upside down. The chapters on point of view and tense are so fresh, thorough, understandable, and thought-provoking that I will recommend them to every budding writer to cross my path from here on out.
Oct 20, 2010 Rory rated it really liked it
If I could only have one book with me while diving into the jungle of decisions that is the writing of a new story, this one would serve me very well.

"Lever of Transcendence": Yes.
Jul 07, 2013 Ada added it
This book has valuable insights if you are a fiction writer, and you're trying to be the best you can be. It was especially helpful in showing when and how to break the rules.
I'm only marking this book as "read" because it is a book I pick up and read a bit here and there..on far so good.
Jan 26, 2011 Peter rated it it was amazing
The essay on point of view alone is worth the price of admission.
Jun 10, 2009 LINDA rated it it was amazing
Shelves: books
A great book to read if you are interested in writing techniques!
Aug 20, 2014 Charity rated it really liked it
Shelves: writing
Comprised of essays about various elements of fiction, this book makes me want to get my MFA in Vermont. The one about point of view pretty much blew my mind and will affect not only how I write fiction but how I read it, too. The library says it wants its copy back today, but I'll be getting this one again so I can finish it (and then start it again).
Aleksandr Voinov
Jun 18, 2014 Aleksandr Voinov rated it liked it
Shelves: creative-writing, own
Interesting thoughts on a number of topics. I liked the examination of present tense versus past tense.
Stephanie rated it really liked it
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