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Writing Fiction: A Guide to Narrative Craft & Writing Poems W/Workshop Guide to Creative Writing Value Pack

4.07 of 5 stars 4.07  ·  rating details  ·  1,431 ratings  ·  138 reviews

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 abundanc

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Published July 19th 2007 by Longman Publishing Group (first published January 1st 1987)
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Excellent, with some quibbles--

Used by creative writing programs all over the U.S., this book pretty much covers everything about the craft. The contemporary short stories at the end of each chapter were really good, especially starting from Chapter 4 with "Mule Killers" by Lydia Peelle.

The main focus of the book is literary fiction and is admittedly biased against genre fiction with a convincing reason: "whereas writing literary fiction can teach you how to write good genre fiction, writing gen
I am beginning my last semester of a Creative Writing BA program in San Francisco, and out of the many writing books I read (Anne Lamott, Stephen King, David Morley, Natalie Goldberg...) this one came close to perfection. It provides students a vocabulary that's grounding. With this book they can discuss efficiently about the elements of writing rather than rely on anecdote or discuss talent as an element. As a student myself, I've been frustrated by authors and teachers explaining writing as a ...more
Heather June Gibbons
Nov 11, 2008 Heather June Gibbons rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: poets trying to teach intro. to cw fiction
I've used this text for two semesters now, but will be retiring it in the Spring in order to try out Making Shapley Fiction + a contemporary short story anthology still TBD. The craft essays at the beginning of each chapter are too in-depth and analytical for beginning fiction writers, I think. As a textbook, this be perfect for students coming in with more experience/skills. I certainly learned a lot, though, and I plan to use some of these terms and explanations of craft elements in relation t ...more
Paula Cappa
Every writer needs this book. It's like a text book but not at all dull and full of great instruction on how to discover and execute your story on to the page: showing vs. telling, the writing process, character text and subtext, methods of character presentation, fictional place and fictional time and more. I especially like Burroway's chapter on Story Form as an Inverted Check Mark. Here she talks about Freitag's famous pyramid of five actions and moves to how the "story shape" can work as an ...more
Laura Leaney
This is a very helpful compendium on all the ways a beginning fiction writer can go awry. Helpful examples abound, and included in each section (characterization, point of view, structure, etc.) are excellent stories from top-tier writers. This book is a keeper.
Nicole Pramik
This is, without a doubt, probably the go-to textbook for college-level Creative Writing courses. Many years ago (I refuse to say how long), this was the text my professor used in his class. So the fact it has been in print for years is a testament to the longevity of its advice. Though there are pros and cons to this text, both for writers and professors/instructors.

First the good stuff. Despite being a "textbook," this book doesn't come across as a "hard" read. It's organized nicely with its t
I cannot in good conscience give this text anything higher than a two. The advice is solid, I'm not going to argue against that, but there is far too much meat in the writing that comes across less as solid writing advice and more as a formulaic approach to writing.

This text is full of bland approaches to writing and repeats the same things I've read in other books. The exercises are tedious and boring; there is no sense of adventure or experimentation. It's a methodical, bland, autopsy of writ
Chris Blocker
Clearly this book is written for the beginning English major in undergrad; the author herself even says so. Anyone outside of this demographic probably won't care or will grown bored. I fell into the latter group. While there were many kernals of good advice, it was all information I had heard before. Good reminders, perhaps; beyond that, it offered little more for me.

Overall, this is a good textbook for the undergrad English major. I would suggest being cautious with the author's opinions, howe
This holds the knowledge I've been longing for as a rookie fiction writer. Highly recommended.
Wow! A truly comprehensive guide full of exercises and examples to hone an author's skills. The short stories included are brilliant and well worth reading and I know that I will refer to this book again and again. This is my first time through and I plan to re-read it in the near future. I must admit that if I had read this before submitting writing anywhere, I may have been too intimidated to attempt the process, but I am on track to continue to learn by writing and reading.
Sanne Wulf
In essence this is an okay book for those wishing to learn about the primary aspects of creative writing. We used it at uni for a creative writing course, but I found that Janet might have dug a bit deeper and stuck to the basics. For the purpose of her book, this is fine, but for my personal purposes it wasn't in depth enough.
Elizabeth Andrew
Rarely have I encountered a writing text so dense in wisdom, so practical, and so philosophically astute. I love how Burroway segues from specific suggestions to illustrative examples from literature to a unified, comprehensive and comprehendible theory of how fiction works.

"Although these are tricks that can be taught and learned, they partake of the essential nature of creativity, in which several elements are joined to produce not merely a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts, but
Debby DeRosa
Writing Fiction by Janet Burroway introduces the beginning writer to the craft of fiction writing. It is divided into nine chapters. Each chapter discusses an aspect of fiction writing, follows with example stories, and ends with exercises for practice. The instructional sections are a little dry and boring, but this is mainly because the level of detail in them. For example, Burroway goes through every single possibility for point of view or explain several metaphors for plot. The example stori ...more

Bonnie Friedman, "Message from a Cloud of Flies: On Distraction"
Annie Dillard from The Writing Life
William Carlos Williams "The Use of Force"
Frank O'Connor "Guests of the Nation"
Tim O'Brien from "The Things They Carried"
Joyce Carol Oates "Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?"
John Edgar Wideman "The Tambourine Lady"
Mary Robison "Yours"
Charles D'Ambrosio "The Point"
Tobias Wolff "Hunters in the Snow"
Toni Cade Bambara "My Man Bovanne"
Gabriel Garcia Marquez "A Very Old Man with Eno
I read this book for a writing group I'm in and there's a reason why this is the holy grail when it comes to many advanced high school programs (St. John's in Houston) and university programs. The seventh edition uses two to three short stories in order to drive home the lessons and through such I was introduced to some fantastic works by Cheever, Oates and O'Connor. The book drills down deep into concepts that have also seemed basic, like the use of a simile, for example. Then it goes on to tal ...more
Suzie Quint
This writing craft book is into its eighth edition, so one would conclude it’s a valuable resource.

I’d like to say it is, but something in the voice of the book grates on me. Is it the phrasing that indicates (in my mind at least) a superior tone? Is it the sense of absolute conviction? Is it the literary/main stream focus of the examples? Is it the wordiness that doesn’t seem like is says much? Is it that so much of the book’s 400 pages is dedicated to short stories rather than discussions abou
I'm reviewing the new 9th edition, which I'll be using for my Advanced Writing Fiction course this semester. I used a version of this text in grad school, and I think it does an excellent job at introducing students to the basic terminology of literary fiction. The chapter on revision is absolutely fabulous and helpful. There is a new publication section as well, which really takes into account the importance of websites, blogs and AWP conference attendance.

The stories, too, are diverse in terms
Eliza T. Williamson
Aug 22, 2008 Eliza T. Williamson rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Eliza T. by: Hester K
Shelves: craft-books
Janet Burroway's book on the craft of writing is the most inclusive, all encompassing one I have encountered. She combines easily digestible discussions on specific issues of craft (say point of view) with literary examples from well-known authors and then exercises for writers to try themselves. To say that I have read this book would be misleading---I imagine I will return to it again and again and again.
This is for committed writers only. Expensive, and hard to find on library shelves. A highly valuable textbook on the writing process, covering story form, plot, structure, building character, place and setting, and a detailed look at point of view. Each section comes with examples of how things do and do not work. A graduate course all by itself.

I love Janet Burroway's writing-I want to read all her work. Such a great presence shining through the words. And very motivating. Just what it says-a guide and a very good one. It teaches as much about how to read as how to write. I've read it several times & want to read it again. Soon.
Aug 09, 2009 Marcela is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
This is one of my "I'm not in an MFA program so I'm learning from books" book. It offers a load of information and is well written; it has lots of examples from good writing to illustrate points it makes. I like it and find it helpful as I work on stories.
A great overview of the fiction writing process, chock full of awesomely teachable example stories. I've been teaching out of this book for years.
Linda Robinson
Jun 18, 2010 Linda Robinson marked it as will-not-finish  ·  review of another edition
I have never seen a book with smaller type. I opened it twice because I didn't believe it was that small. Back to the library with this...
Dave Cullen
This is THE classic how-to on writing fiction.

I used this both as a student and teacher. The examples are incredible.
Helpful and easy to read and understand. There were also some great short stories in it.
Becca Haidet
I used this for my Fiction Workshop class. I found it helpful but it was also hard to put into practice. Our teacher only brushed over it and I felt like we knew most of what it was saying. Some of the stories were boring and very long and I didn't pick up on what the stories had to do with the chapter. Maybe that one is just me though. I rented this book because it was too expensive to buy and part of me is sad to see it go for maybe in the future I could reference it but maybe it's best I only ...more
Feb 01, 2011 Eric marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: writing
Picked this up for a fiction writing class.
I used the third edition of this book when I was an undergrad over 10 years ago, and now that I'm teaching creative writing, I turned to the seventh edition. I still feel that it's the best writing textbook available, but there aren't many textbooks to choose from. I'm disappointed that the seventh edition removed most of the discussion questions for the stories, and there isn't a teacher's supplement; students not familiar with literature are left to interpret the stories without any guidance o ...more
I got this as the textbook for a novel writing class and have kept it ever since. It is detailed, specific, with examples of good and bad, as well as writing exercises to develop a writer's craft. It was an optional purchase, but I bought it, read it and am glad I did.

It includes chapters on the process (do what works for you--I like that sort of freedom, where whatever I do is right as long as I do it), showing and telling, characterization, setting, atmosphere, POV, metaphors and similar (and
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  • What If?: Writing Exercises for Fiction Writers
  • From Where You Dream: The Process of Writing Fiction
  • On Becoming a Novelist
  • Description & Setting
  • Dialogue: Techniques and exercises for crafting effective dialogue
  • A Writer's Book of Days: A Spirited Companion and Lively Muse for the Writing Life
  • Steering the Craft: Exercises and Discussions on Story Writing for the Lone Navigator or the Mutinous Crew
  • Chapter After Chapter: Discover the Dedication & Focus You Need to Write the Book of Your Dreams
  • Making Shapely Fiction
  • The Writer's Idea Book
  • Characters, Emotion & Viewpoint: Techniques and Exercises for Crafting Dynamic Characters and Effective Viewpoints
  • Writing from the Inside Out: Transforming Your Psychological Blocks to Release the Writer Within
  • The Complete Handbook Of Novel Writing: Everything You Need To Know About Creating & Selling Your Work (Writers Digest)
  • How to Grow a Novel: The Most Common Mistakes Writers Make and How to Overcome Them
  • The Scene Book: A Primer for the Fiction Writer
  • Writing the Breakout Novel Workbook: Hands-On Help for Making Your Novel Stand Out and Succeed
  • The Weekend Novelist
  • Creating Short Fiction: The Classic Guide to Writing Short Fiction
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
More about Janet Burroway...
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“Most writing is done between the mind and the hand, not between the hand and the page.” 4 likes
“The mystique and the false glamour of the writing profession grow partly out of a mistaken belief that people who can express profound ideas and emotions have ideas and emotions more profound than the rest of us. It isn't so. The ability to express is a special gift with a special craft to support it and is spread fairly equally among the profound, the shallow, and the mediocre.” 3 likes
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