- Paperback: 416 pages
- Publisher: Longman; 4 edition (February 2, 2014)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0321923170
- ISBN-13: 978-0321923172
- Product Dimensions: 5.9 x 0.9 x 8.9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 52 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #359,254 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Imaginative Writing: The Elements of Craft (4th Edition) 4th Edition
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About the Author
JANET BURROWAY is the author of plays, poetry, essays, children’s books, and eight novels including The Buzzards, Raw Silk (runner up for the National Book Award), Opening Nights, Cutting Stone, and Bridge of Sand. Her other publications include a collection of personal essays, Embalming Mom, in addition to a volume of poetry, Material Goods, and three children’s books in verse, The Truck on the Track, The Giant Jam Sandwich, and The Perfect Pig. Her plays Medea with Child (The Reva Shiner Award), Sweepstakes, Division of Property (Arts & Letters Award), and Parts of Speech have received readings and productions in New York, London, San Francisco, Hollywood, Chicago, and various regional theaters. Her textbook Writing Fiction, now in its ninth edition, is the most widely used creative writing text in the United States. Her most recent books are a memoir, Losing Tim, and a collection of essays she has edited, A Story Larger Than My Own: Women Writers Look Back on Their Lives and Careers. She is Robert O. Lawton Distinguished Professor Emerita at the Florida State University in Tallahassee and has most recently taught in the MFA Program in Creative Writing at Northwestern University.
Top customer reviews
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By Janet Burroway
Reviewed by C J Singh (Berkeley, Calif.)
I've been using Janet Burroway's IMAGINATIVE WRITING: THE ELEMENTS OF CRAFT in my introductory workshops, starting with the first edition. The participants' anonymous evaluations of this book have been highly favorable. Why should you have confidence in Burroway's book? Just look at the list of her publications on page (ii) -- every creative writing genrè! Moreover, she's taught creative writing for decades. Your study of this book will anchor you into a firm foundation for all of your future creative writing. How? By Re-reading as a Writer its 61 Masterpiece examples and internalizing narrative-craft elements by DOING its Try This Prompts.
The fourth edition adds several new short stories, creative nonfictions, poems, dramas and drops some of those in the third edition, keeping the overall page count in the book about the same. The new stories added are by Tobias Wolff, Jamaica Kincaid, Ursula Le Guin and others; new examples of creative nonfictions are from Michael Chabon, David Sedaris, and others. Also new are nearly half of the poems and dramas.
Some of the additions are from the most widely anthologized. That's good for beginners: if you haven't read them before, they are great additions; good for instructors: if you have read them before, they cut down your preparation time.
Tobias Wolff's "Bullet in the Brain" is an excellent example of innovative craft. The extended use of what the main character did not remember in his dying moments to show-and-tell the back-story and the one childhood event that he did remember to reveal the theme of the story. The theme, in my reading: the protagonist in his childhood had great love for the music of language, which got vitiated by his choice of profession, that of a book critic - a 'deformation professionelle' characterized by habitual cynical language.
The expository sections of Poetry and Drama are expanded. Particularly helpful will be the first and final drafts of Elizabeth Bishop's poem "One Art" and Patty Seyburn's "Anatomy of Disorder."
In the Revision section, Burroway wisely retains an example from her own work because only the author can authoritatively know her changing intentions in the re-drafting process.
As in the earlier editions, the author invites instructors to email her with suggestions. This feedback has helped the author clarify exposition and enhance her book with every new edition. It's currently a required textbook at UCBerkeley and numerous other creative-writing programs world-wide.
Based on my experience of using this book as the main text in writing workshops, I recommend reading Chapter 6, "Story" first: "As readers, we will always, if the story succeeds, have our capacity for empathy enlarged by having lived in the character's skin for the duration. Every story is in this important human sense a 'love story'." (p 167)
Janet Burroway's unique multigenre approach, lucid expositions, and "Try This" prompts make IMAGINATIVE WRITING the top recommendation for learning the elements of the creative-writing craft.
For a brief comparison with the earlier editions, please read on.
If you are buying this book for self-study, I recommend the THIRD edition as the selection of stories is just as good and a used copy will cost much less at amazon.com
Imaginative Writing: The Elements of Craft (THIRD edition)
By Janet Burroway
Reviewed by C J Singh (Berkeley, CA)
27 of 27 people found the following review helpful.
(Posted on 1 Feb 2010)
The THIRD Edition of the Classic Intro to Creative Writing
The following is an addendum to my review of the second edition that was posted on 8 April 2007.)
Janet Burroway's "Imaginative Writing: The Elements of Craft, 3rd Edition" adds several new short stories, nonfictions, poems, dramas and drops some of the ones in the second edition, keeping the overall page count of the book about the same. Notably enhanced are the chapters on drama and on poetry. The drama section includes several examples of a newly popular genre, the ten-minute play.
Although marketed as a textbook for Creative Writing 101, this book can serve as an excellent primer for self-teaching. On completing the brief "try this" exercises included, you'll acquire a good understanding of the craft elements and be able to judge whether the comments on your work by other apprentice writers in a workshop or your friends are on the mark or not. Beware that even positive, flattering comments ("I loved this image...") can mislead you.
Imaginative Writing: The Elements of Craft (SECOND Edition)
By Janet Burroway
Reviewed by C J Singh (Berkeley, Calif.)
(Posted on 8 April 2007.)
Unlike the reviews to date, my review focuses on the current edition, not the first edition.
The overall organization of the book is unchanged. The first part comprises chapters on the five elements of craft common to all genres of imaginative writing: Image; Voice; Character; Setting; Story. The second part comprises chapters on the four genres: Creative Nonfiction; Fiction; Poetry; Drama.
Among the new examples in the second edition are the following: contemporary short stories such as Jhumpa Lahiri's "Interpreter of Maladies," William Trevor's "Sitting with the Dead," Ron Carlson's "Big foot Stole My Wife"; contemporary poems by Billy Collins, Annie Tibble, and Henry Reed: contemporary creative nonfiction by Gayle Pemberton, Bill Capossere, and William Kittredge; contemporary drama by Carol Real, Jim Quinn, and Josh ben Friedman.
Also new are a series of developmental exercises, located in the basic techniques section at the end of each chapter. This series is designed to facilitate readers "toward a finished" draft of a short story.
Burroway has wisely retained many of the exemplary selections from the first edition such as Charles Baxter's "Snow," Donald Barthelme's "The School," and Robert Olen Butler's "Missing."
Its lucid expositions, brilliant examples, and "Try This" prompts make IMAGINATIVE WRITING the best basic textbook. Experienced writers, too, can benefit from a study of this book's unique multi-genre approach.
-- c. j. singh