Edition: 3rd 2011
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Description: The core organizing principle of Imaginative Writing remains the same, which is that students in a multigenre course can benefit from playing with various writing techniques before they settle into a particular form. Much, if not most, of the advice given to students is relevant to any sort of writing and to most of the genres: The need for significant detail, for example, applies equally to narrative scene, poetic line, and theatrical dialogue; voice is a concept that applies to a character, a narrator, a memoir, a lyric persona, and so forth. My expectation is that by discussing techniques and offering exercises that let students experiment with those techniques before they commit to a formal project will make the instruction less threatening and encourage a sense of adventure. Beginning this way will also make it possible to illustrate the extent to which all writing is imaginative (as well as autobiographical) and that different genres share similar sources and build on similar skills. I have taken fiction and poetry as givens in a multigenre course. I have personally been convinced of drama's usefulness in developing a writer's facility (with characterization, dialogue, plot, pace, symbol). I have also wanted to acknowledge the growing popularity of creative nonfiction, the continuity of imaginative writing with the essay form students have inevitably studied, and the fact that emerging writers may find it easiest to begin with the material of their own lives. The book is organized so that, roughly, the first five weeks of a semester will cover five areas of imaginative technique (image, voice, character, setting, and story), the sixth the processes of development and revision, with two weeks each devoted to creative nonfiction, fiction, poetry, and drama. Each chapter begins with a graphic or photographic image accompanied by a "Warm-up" prompt, which may be assigned in class or as a journal entry or replaced by one of the instructor's invention. Each of the technique chapters proceeds with a discussion of that technique, including illustrations from more than one genre (some invented and some taken from established writers); "Try This" exercises linked to particular aspects of the topic; then complete selections in the various genres. Like the "Warm-up" features, the "Try This" exercises can be used as in-class practice, assigned for journal entries, or left for the students to choose from. I think it's important, at least sometimes, to discuss resulting pieces in class, in order to get students used to a nonjudgmental discussion of roughs and written play. (This neutral way of workshopping is described at the end of the first chapter, "Invitation to the Writer.") Further comments and exercises among the selections at the end of each chapter link the readings to the techniques discussed and suggest briefly there are no questions aimed at literary interpretation how to read the selections for what can be taken away from them and made part of a repertoire of skills. But, of course, all the selections illustrate many things, and they can be assigned in any order or quantity that suits the individual instructor. The third edition, at the request of several reviewers, also contains development ideas at the end of each technique chapter, to aid those teachers who encourage students to be thinking toward a finished piece.