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Method and Madness: The Making of a Story (A Guide to Writing Fiction)

4.24  ·  Rating Details ·  145 Ratings  ·  17 Reviews
Paperback, 619 pages
Published March 1st 2009 by W. W. Norton & Company
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Aug 24, 2016 Sylvia rated it it was amazing
I teach Creative Writing and Fiction and I have always relied on Janet Burroways books as well as some of Charles Baxters, but this semester I decided to give it a try to Alice LaPlante textbook and what an amazing adventure this has been for me and my students. It is so down-to-eath, deep, practical. Any fiction writer/professor would appreciate LaPlantes fuel to writing. ...more
Jul 09, 2015 LATOYA SAUNDERS rated it liked it
This is a writing text book. It feels like it's directed towards writers of high brow literary fiction which is great. Unfortunately that's not me. Most of this book simply went right over my head.
This may have worked better for me if I used it in a fine arts class or writing workshop but it's not a writing book I'd recommend. I think there are better out there.
Michael Fischer
Jan 27, 2010 Michael Fischer rated it it was amazing
The best fiction writing text I've ever read. LaPlante gives equal treatment to craft (method) and heart (madness), and encourages young writers to learn the rules so that they can be broken. Unlike other craft texts, the tone is lively, sassy, and playful, rather than dry, dull, and condescending. Two of my favorite lines from the book are:

"The only rule for fiction is that it be interesting."

"Creative writing is the one area where you don't want to be 'appropriate.' Appropriate is for dinner p
Jun 13, 2013 J.C. rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: young writers, beginning writers
Recommended to J.C. by: Doug Rice
This was a textbook for my Fiction Writing class, and I gotta say i'm glad we ended up using it. I plan on having it on my desk for reference, study the short stories catalogued inside it and inspiration.

The advice in this book is fantastic, and the variety of short stories and clips from novels is helpful, insightful and enlightening. Plus the stories are just good, so there's that going for it. i've written over a great majority of them, though, which makes me wish I had studied the book with
Karen Germain
Jul 02, 2014 Karen Germain rated it it was amazing
I just finished with my Spring Quarter writing classes and Alice LaPlante's Method and Madness, was the primary text for one of my classes. I don't normally review text books, but as I thought this was so phenomenal, I wanted to share my thoughts.

Although LaPlante's Method and Madness, covers all of the basics of creating a story, it's not necessarily a beginners manual. I've been taking writing classes for years and I still found plenty in LaPlante's book that stimulated my creativity and made
Jessica Kok
Jan 04, 2014 Jessica Kok rated it really liked it
This book was very helpful in the Introduction to Creative Writing class I took this past semester. She makes some excellent points and does so in a way that makes even the instructive parts of the text enjoyable to read. I will definitely be referring back to this book in the next few months as I continue revising some of my short fiction.
Dec 22, 2011 Tracie rated it really liked it
Shelves: writing, school
I never thought I would be interested in or that good at writing fiction - I'm much more the poetry and non-fiction person, but the exercises in this book helped me develop better skills at writing fictional pieces. The exercises were fun and insightful. The only thing I really didn't like about this book is some of the choices for the readings. I don't think vulgarity and sexual connotations are necessary to teach a lesson. Some of the stories were disturbing, and I was left wondering if they w ...more
Daniel Viramontes
Apr 11, 2012 Daniel Viramontes rated it it was amazing
A clear, concise book of guidelines for fiction writing -- it doesn't prescribe the "correct" way to write, instead providing suggestions and tools to help the author focus on and effectively channel his or her inner madness onto the page. The beauty of fiction is that it is amorphous and unable to be defined, but Alice LaPlante does a fantastic job rendering the different facets of the craft into a very accessible text. Honestly, though, the short stories used to illustrate the point of each ch ...more
Jun 11, 2012 Jewel rated it it was amazing
Shelves: misc
THE book for those who want to learn how to write short stories. I used this book in a short story writing class I took for fun and it is nothing but excellent. LaPlante does a structured breakdown of how writers go about making a story, from the thought process to balancing the types of narration in your work. the book is also stuffed full of short stories to demonstrate different kinds of plot, different uses of sensory detail and so forth. she even gives examples of bad stories, ha!
Casey Hampton
Mar 09, 2013 Casey Hampton rated it really liked it
Shelves: writing
I found this both accessible and helpful. It is full of literary selections, which do a great job of illustrating what each chapter is talking about in order to drive home the point of discussion. As it is with any book like this wherein a craft is being examined and explained, the reader must resist the temptation to lean in too close. I think this book does a good job of providing angles of perspective while reinforcing the point that there is no universal one way of doing anything.
Katlyn Slough
Jul 25, 2016 Katlyn Slough rated it really liked it
Writing textbook for a fiction writing class. Good explanation of theories and worthwhile exercises. However the stories used as examples could have been more relevant or more notable authors.
Jun 07, 2015 Ashley rated it it was amazing
I use this for my Intro to Fiction class for undergraduates, and it really is one of the best books on writing I've read in a really long time.
Dec 02, 2014 Selinalynn rated it really liked it
pretty good intro to fiction writing. Nice exercises even though LaPlante is very quote heavy.
So much good stuff to gather from this book; I've only begun to draw from it for teaching.
Mar 30, 2012 Renn rated it really liked it
Shelves: school
Excellent book with great exercises, samples, and advice on how to get going in shortfic.
Aug 12, 2012 Matthew rated it it was amazing
Best fiction anthology/fiction essays/fiction writing textbook I've found.
Mimi Schweid
I have to read it for school, not a bad read though.
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Textbook vs. Non Textbook 1 3 Mar 22, 2012 06:42AM  
  • Telling Stories
  • Making Shapely Fiction
  • On Writing Short Stories
  • Writing the Life Poetic: An Invitation to Read & Write Poetry
  • 4 A.M. Breakthrough: Unconventional Writing Exercises That Transform Your Fiction
  • The Writer's Portable Mentor: A Guide to Art, Craft, and the Writing Life
  • Ron Carlson Writes a Story
  • The Fourth Genre: Contemporary Writers Of/On Creative Nonfiction
  • Writing the Australian Crawl
  • The Truth of the Matter: Art and Craft in Creative Nonfiction
  • The Modern Library Writer's Workshop: A Guide to the Craft of Fiction
  • Naming the World: And Other Exercises for the Creative Writer
  • Writing Fiction: A Guide to Narrative Craft
  • The Art of Syntax: Rhythm of Thought, Rhythm of Song
  • Writing Fiction: The Practical Guide From New York's Acclaimed Writing School
  • What If?: Writing Exercises for Fiction Writers
  • The Practice of Creative Writing: A Guide for Students
  • From Where You Dream: The Process of Writing Fiction
Alice LaPlante is an award-winning writer of both fiction and non-fiction. She teaches creative writing at Stanford University, where she was a Wallace Stegner Fellow and Jones Lecturer. She also teaches in the MFA program at San Francisco State University. Her fiction has been widely published in Epoch, Southwestern Review, and other literary journals. Alice is the author of five books, including ...more
More about Alice LaPlante...

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