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

4.27 of 5 stars 4.27  ·  rating details  ·  115 ratings  ·  15 reviews
Paperback, 619 pages
Published March 1st 2009 by W. W. Norton & Company
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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.
Jun 13, 2013 J.C. rated it 4 of 5 stars
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
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
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.
Michael Fischer
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
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
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 5 of 5 stars
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
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.
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.
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.
Excellent book with great exercises, samples, and advice on how to get going in shortfic.
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  
  • On Writing Short Stories
  • Making Shapely Fiction
  • Telling 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 Truth of the Matter: Art and Craft in Creative Nonfiction
  • Naming the World: And Other Exercises for the Creative Writer
  • The Art of Syntax: Rhythm of Thought, Rhythm of Song
  • The Fourth Genre: Contemporary Writers Of/On Creative Nonfiction
  • The Modern Library Writer's Workshop: A Guide to the Craft of Fiction
  • Writing the Australian Crawl
  • Writing Fiction: A Guide to Narrative Craft
  • The Practice of Creative Writing: A Guide for Students
  • Writing in General and the Short Story in Particular
  • What If?: Writing Exercises for Fiction Writers
  • Creating Short Fiction: The Classic Guide to Writing Short 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
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