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The Art and Craft of Fiction A Writer's Guide,9781319030421

The Art and Craft of Fiction A Writer's Guide

Edition: 2nd
Format: Paperback
Pub. Date: 9/30/2016
Publisher(s): Bedford/St. Martin's


Brief, practical, and affordable, The Art and Craft of Fiction gives aspiring writers all they need, in a friendly voice that students love. Michael Kardos focuses on technique and presents fiction writing as a teachable (and learnable) art. With an organization built on methods and process rather than traditional literary elements, Kardos helps students begin their stories, write strong scenes, use images and research detail, revise for aesthetics and mechanics, and finish and polish their own stories. Instructors trust The Art and Craft of Fiction to help structure their course, and reinforce and complement their teaching points with examples and exercises. A brief fiction anthology at the back of the book includes 15 selections that instructors praise for their usefulness in the creative writing classroom.

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Author Biography

Michael Kardos ( of Mississippi State University is a fiction author and instructor. He is the author of the story collection One Last Good Time (Press 53, 2011) and the forthcoming novel The Three-Day Affair (Grove/Atlantic 2012). His short stories have appeared in The Southern Review, Crazyhorse, Prairie Schooner, and many other magazines and anthologies. His essays about fiction have appeared in The Writer's Chronicle and Writer's Digest. Kardos received his B.A. from Princeton University, his M.F.A. from The Ohio State University, and his Ph.D. from the University of Missouri. He currently lives in Starkville, Mississippi, where he co-directs the creative writing program at Mississippi State and edits the literary journal Jabberwock Review. Kardos is author of the upcoming Bedford text, The Art and Craft of Fiction: A Writer's Guide and a contributor to Bedford's LitBits, where he blogs about teaching creative writing.

Table of Contents


1. Thinking, Reading, and Writing Like a Writer

Being a Writer Means Paying Attention
Why a Textbook (And Why This Textbook?)
Rules of the Road
Reading Like a Writer
Finding Ideas for Stories
A Word to the Novelist
What’s the Point of All This?

2. The Extreme Importance of Relevant Detail
Details and Believability
Details and Engaging the Reader
Showing and Telling
Fiction Writing as Telepathy
Getting the Details Right (a.k.a. Researching Your Story)
Which Details to Include?
Nothing More Than Feelings
Details and the Writer’s Sensibility

3. Starting Your Story
What Beginnings Do
Reveal Key Information
Establish the Story’s Stakes
Start with a Break from Routine
Consider Starting In Medias Res
Whose Perspective Should You Choose?
Other Information to Convey Sooner Rather Than Later
Ultimately, It’s Your Call

4. Working with the Elements of Fiction
Point of View (POV)

5. Creating Scenes: A Nuts & Bolts Approach
Scene-Writing, Final Notes

6. Organizing Your Story: Form & Structure
Classic Story Structure and the Freytag Pyramid
Conclusion: What Has Changed?
Form = Meaning
Other Ways to Tell a Story
Scene and Summary
Case Study: Structural Imitation

7. Writing a Compelling Story
High Stakes
Character Desire
Active Protagonists
The Atypical Day (A Break from Routine)
External Conflict
Internal Conflict / Presenting Characters’ Interior Lives
Compressed Time Period
Suspense (As Opposed to Withheld Information)

8. Ending Your Story
The Challenge
Strategies for Ending Your Story
Common Pitfalls
Getting the Words Right
Two Final Thoughts on Endings

9. The Power of Clarity
Vagueness verses Ambiguity
Clear Words
Clear Sentences
Clear Stories: A Few Words of Advice
Clarity: Some Final Thoughts

10. Revising Your Story
The Case for Revision
What Is "Revision," Anyway?
What Is a "First Draft"?
Twelve Strategies for Revision
How Do You Know When Your Story Is (Really, Truly) Done?


11. The Mechanics of Fiction: A Writer's Boot Camp
Formatting and Punctuating Dialogue
Addressing a Person in Dialogue
Paragraph Breaks in Dialogue
Double Quotation Marks / Single Quotation Marks
Quick Quiz: Repair This Sentence
Scare Quotes
Formatting and Punctuating a Character’s Thoughts
Comma Splices
"Who" and "That"
Exclamation Marks, Question Marks, All-Caps
Conjugation of "Lie" and "Lay"
Quick Quiz: Choose the Correct Sentence
Sentences That Begin with an "-ing" Word
Some Final Advice
The Mechanics of Fiction: Practice Test


12. A Mini-Anthology: 15 Stories

1. Sherman Alexie, This is What it Means to Say Phoenix, Arizona
2. Richard Bausch, Tandolfo the Great
3. Kevin Brockmeier, A Fable with Slips of White Paper Spilling from the Pockets
4. Percival Everett, The Appropriation of Cultures
5. Becky Hagenston, Midnight, Licorice, Shadow
6. Etgar Keret, What, of this Goldfish, Would You Wish?
7. Jhumpa Lahiri, This Blessed House
8. Jill McCorkle, Magic Words
9. Kevin Moffett, One Dog Year
10. Tim O’Brien, On the Rainy River
11. ZZ Packer, Drinking Coffee Elsewhere
12. Susan Perabo, Indulgence
13. Karen Russell, St. Lucy’s Home for Girls Raised by Wolves
14. John Updike, A&P
15. Tobias Wolff, Bullet in the Brain


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