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Imaginative Writing: The Elements of Craft
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Imaginative Writing: The Elements of Craft

3.77 of 5 stars 3.77  ·  rating details  ·  342 ratings  ·  32 reviews
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 ...more
Paperback, 402 pages
Published June 1st 2006 by Longman Publishing Group (first published 2002)
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Chanel Earl
This was a pretty good creative writing textbook in that it helped start some good discussions. Part of the reason it did that though, was by saying things that were somewhat controversial like "Poetry should be spoken aloud" and "it is impossible to write a good story using only summary." I had trouble with some of the limits that I felt the discussion sections put on creative writing, but still enjoyed the book.

The reading selections (which I didn't read all of) were sometimes brilliant, other
This review is also posted on my blog at

This is a large and detailed book on how to engage in creative writing. Each chapter contains explanations of various elements such as ‘image’, ‘voice’, ‘character’. It covers techniques of fiction writing, creative non fiction, poetry and drama.

Each chapter contains short exercises scattered throughout the text but handily enclosed in highlighted text boxes. These can be undertaken in writing workshops or by an ind
Michael Burnam-fink
The basis of this book is that writing should be play-even for professional writers there has to be an element of fun and joy. As long as an author can keep having fun, they can write indefinitely and improve their craft. While I'm no fan of the Iowa Writer's Seminar, (and this book is steeped in that tradition), it has a lot of useful tips and exercises for writing a little every day, and improving your own writing. I could see this useful for teaching a creative writing class, or as a self-gui ...more
Dec 06, 2009 Karen rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommended to Karen by: Peggy Balwin - creative writing class text
Shelves: read_chunks_of
Because of their strident whimsy, I soon took all the try-this excercises to be rhetorical questions. What if your main character was a giraffe? What does it have in it's pockets?
It really depends on how one teaches an intro. class in creative writing, I think. I don't personally like the break-down of image, voice, etc. before / separate from the chapters on genre. However, I can easily see how it would work and why the book was put together this way. It's just difficult for me in terms of time and getting students writing specific pieces that focus on structure, etc., as opposed to focusing on part of craft (such as image) while writing in any genre.... But, what do yo ...more
We've just begun theSpring 2008 semester, and this is my first term teaching this title by Burroway (whose book, "Writing Fiction" I've often used for a class by the same title). It's actually a multi-genre book, covering fiction, poetry, scripting, and creative non-fiction, so it's useful in Intro to Creative Writing courses (I'm using it in a 'topics' course in Horror & Suspense writing, because the examples she chooses cover the basics of the craft in great ways...any book that holds up A ...more
Nana Mizushima
We used this for a fiction writing class and I liked it as the textbook. Very good examples and exercises.
For my Intro to Creative Writing course. I liked how Burroway separated her book into chapters. Some examples she used at the end of each chapter (poems, non fiction and short fiction) kind of confused me because I thought they'd be better examples for other chapters. They were all good examples, though. She does have useful exercises. The fact that I got stuck on a few of them was a reflection on my own lack of skill. We did jump around but the format was such that we didn't have to go too line ...more
I used this textbook for an Introduction to Creative Writing class. While I think nobody explains elements of craft better than Janet Burroway, overall I was pretty disappointed with this textbook. The organization wasn't useful for a class that covers each genre separately, and I found myself having to supplement the readings with a lot of handouts. Students complained that the craft discussions in most chapters dragged on for too long, and honestly in some places I agreed with them. I won't be ...more
I had to read it for my intro to creative writing class, and I have to say that it was interesting at first, and she has many very good ideas and tips for fighting off writer's block, but I would suggest limiting yourself to just the first portion of the book. Or the middle. Or the end. But since she tends to be so repetitive, you can really get most of the content from just a portion of the book. If it had been edited down to a shorter length I would have given it more stars.
Debbie Bateman
Although I am still working through this book, I think it's fair to say that it's one of the best I've read about writing. The explanations are clear. For years, I've heard the advice that writers should "Show and not tell." After working through the section in Imaginative Writing about avoiding abstractions, generalizations and judgements, I finally understand what that advice really means.

This is a must-read for all serious writers.
Laura Caitlin
Feb 09, 2012 Laura Caitlin rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: burgeoning authors
Recommended to Laura by: Darrin Doyle, Goodreads author
Imaginative Writing is a book I first read in a creative writing course (taught by Darrin Doyle, Goodreads author) in 2007. Since that time, I have returned again and again to the instructional and reading portions and have reused the exercises. I will move this book from shelf to hand repeatedly in the years to come. I highly recommend it to burgeoning and seasoned writers alike.
A good overview of all four genres. As always, Burroway does a great job teaching the nuts and bolts of good writing, and her own writing is clear and clean and interesting. My one complaint is I wish I liked some of the fiction and creative nonfiction included in the book a little better. But overall, a very helpful tool for teaching an intro to creative writing course.
Tara Calaby
This is quite a good creative writing text. It doesn't assume that readers are complete writing beginners, which means that the hints and activities in it are more useful than in some books. I personally thought that the chapters on character and development & revision were the most helpful, but others would have different preferences.
Finished this for class. Well, I didn't read all the chapters but I read most of it and we're done using the book in class. Anyway, the chapters are helpful and the exercise suggestions are unique and I'd like to give them a try sometime when I'm not bogged down with homework. This is a good beginners read for writers.
Kelly Lynn Thomas
This book covers fiction, poetry and creative nonfiction so it's a good overview. The only reason I gave it three stars is Janet Burroway is kind of obnoxious and condescending and obviously thinks she's better than you, the reader, and reminds you of that fact at every possible opportunity.
Cathrine Bonham
Collage test book from Creative writing 101. This book covers all kinds of Creative writing, including: Poetry, fiction, non-fiction, and drama (Play script). great over view of the basics. Good for some one who knows they want to write but maybe hasn't quite found their format yet.
I really enjoyed the stories and poems that were in this book like snow day by billy collins, sitting with the dead by william trevor, interpretor of maladies by jhumpa lahiri, the school by donald barthelme, trials of a tourist by annie tibble and more
I'm about to use this as my intro to creative writing textbook for the fourth semester. It's useful, easy to follow, and, at least in previous editions, has a good accompaniment of essays, stories, and poems. It's basically a guide and anthology.
Excellent basic reference for any writing class, including composition--not just creative writing! The exercises are great starter points for details, revisions, and developing voice. Loads of material to use.
Diana Burtnett
Excellent book to retain on my reference shelf - great info on developing characters, setting, images, voice and revising. Intended to be a course workboook (?), it has many exercises and sample readings.
Katelyn Irons
Imaginative Writing is the first book a creative writer should read. Genius short stories, great encouragement, and journal prompts make it one of the first things I'd suggest you put on your shelf.
I read this for my Creative Writing class. Very helpful in many ways!
required text in my "Craft of Writing" class at UC Berkely Ext.
If you want to be a writer, this is the book to read! Hands down.
One of the better texts on writing I've had over the years.
Pretty awesome. It diversified my writing skills.
Janet Burroway is the Yoda of fiction reading and writing.
Very clear and concise representation of the craft.
Absolute must have for creative writers.
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Janet Burroway is the author of seven novels including The Buzzards, Raw Silk (runner up for the national Book award), Opening Nights, and Cutting Stone; a volume of poetry, Material Goods; a collection of essays, Embalming Mom; and two children's books, The Truck on the Track and The Giant Jam Sandwich. Her most recent plays, Medea With Child, Sweepstakes, Division of Property, and Parts of Speec ...more
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