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The Writer's Notebook II: Craft Essays from Tin House

(Craft Essays from Tin House #2)

4.22  ·  Rating details ·  126 ratings  ·  14 reviews
The Writer's Notebook II continues in the tradition of The Writer's Notebook, featuring essays based on craft seminars from the Tin House Summer Writer's Workshop, as well as a variety of craft essays from Tin House magazine contributors and Tin House Books authors. The collection includes essays that not only examine important craft aspects such as humor, suspense, and re ...more
Paperback, 246 pages
Published October 23rd 2012 by Tin House Books
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Alonzo Vereen
Jan 04, 2018 rated it it was ok
Although I was excited to read this collection, I must say that by the end of Francine Prose’s “Introduction,” I was over it. As was the case with Prose’s Reading Like a Writer, her introduction here served as nothing more than a compilation of summaries: quotes from her favorite contributors holding paragraphs up like sentinels. She wrote like her heart wasn’t in it, like she penned her intro. for nothing more than a paycheck. Other essays in the collection were just as underwhelming - boring-a ...more
Jul 23, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: on-craft, non-fiction
A great little collection of essays from the sublime Tin House crew. The essays are more expository than instructive or prescriptive (i.e. there's not much of "Do this and do that and then your fiction works"); the reader will come away with more or less depending on how much they've studied the craft. It might just be a strange coincidence on my part, but I found several of the essays arrived at the exact time at which I needed them--much like the Tin House Writer's Workshop itself--and as such ...more
Jan 10, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Every essay in Tin House's 2nd collection of The Writer's Notebook is bound to provide the reader with at least a few refreshing insights on the craft of writing. What makes the collection so amazing is how passionate many of the contributors are towards their essays, driving them to unexpected and liberating arguments (Antonya Nelson's in particular which chronicles a semester's experimental method for teaching creative writing, with extremely helpful results), and original advice, and alternat ...more
Dec 01, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Excellent essays by some of my favorite writers. A grad-school-in-review of sorts. Except without grad school, I don't think I could have absorbed half of what's laid out here. ...more
Danielle Bodnar
Jun 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
An overall excellent collection of essays on the craft of writing that can serve as a bit of inspiration if you're in a creative rut. While some of the essays may feel like a retread if you've read about writing before (I mean it's kind of hard to say something new about it anyway, there's so much writing about writing out there already), they may help to at least inspire you to keep writing or fix a problematic piece.
I highly recommend the essays by Bret Anthony Johnston, Andrea Barrett, Antony
Apr 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: on-writing
Solid craft anthology that skews to writing fiction.

Standout essays in the collection: Steve Almond on humor, Maggie Nelson on "leaning against" the thinking/writing of others, Antonya Nelson on revising the short story and Elissa Schappell's exploration of why "endings are a bitch."
Not Mark
Aug 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing

A great resource for writers. A number of takeaways from every essay.
Robin Kirk
Apr 04, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: craft
I gave this a three, mainly because there were only a couple of good essays. But the good ones are REALLY good, so do browse this, by all means... For me, the two best pieces were by Johnston and Almond...

Bret Anthony Johnston on having an agenda as a writer:

The writer seems to have chosen an event because it illustrates a point or mounts an argument. When a fiction writer has a message to deliver, a residue of smugness is often in the prose, a distressing sense of the story's being rushed, of t
Mark Dostert
Nov 26, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I can't recommend this collection of writing craft essays highly enough. The authors are those who have taught at the Tin House Summer Writers Workshop in Portland, OR, which I've attended twice. I really enjoyed what Karen Russell said about Flannery O'Connor and the surreal as well as Bret Anthony Johnston's charge that fiction writers write 'not to explain but to discover.' ...more
May 30, 2013 rated it it was ok
Recommended to Matt by: Nick
Shelves: 2013, nonfiction
Best essays:

Anthony Doerr, "The Sword of Damocles: On Suspense, Shower Murders, and Shooting People on the Beach"


Jim Krusoe, "Story & Dream"

Karen Russell, "Engineering Impossible Architectures"

Vincent Scarpa
Aug 09, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Especially great in this collection are essays by Bret Anthony Johnson, Karen Russell, Elissa Schappell, and the inimitable Maggie Nelson, whose essay "A Sort of Leaning Against," is required reading. ...more
Marisa Carpico
Apr 16, 2016 rated it liked it
Bit of a mixed bag, unsurprisingly, but thought all of them had at least some bit of helpful advice. Particularly liked the chapters by Bender, Percy and Nelson.
Margo Ball
Jan 07, 2013 rated it really liked it
These essays were great reads and wonderfully helpful. A couple were duds, but for the most part, I'd read them over again. ...more
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Francine Prose is the author of twenty works of fiction. Her novel A Changed Man won the Dayton Literary Peace Prize, and Blue Angel was a finalist for the National Book Award. Her most recent works of nonfiction include the highly acclaimed Anne Frank: The Book, The Life, The Afterlife, and the New York Times bestseller Reading Like a Writer. The recipient of numerous grants and honors, including ...more

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