'Writing Fiction' explores the elements of fiction, providing practical writing techniques & examples. Written in a tone that is personal & non-prescriptive, this book encourages students to develop proficiency through each step of the writing process. It also integrates diverse, contemporary short stories in every chapter.
On my initial encounter with it, I got no farther than her description of Dorothea Brande's mehod of writing every morning before anything else, using stream of consciousness, not self-editing. I was immersed in that practice when i was a newspaper reporter, and it helped my work immensely. I still do it, but more intermittently.
Great for any writers wanting to hone their craft.
Overall, this is a good textbook for the undergrad English major. I would suggest being cautious with the author's opinions, however. There are few things I despise more in English craft books than "This is the way to do this and it is the only way" which Burroway alludes to from time to time. Which is ironic considering that the first chapter is entitled "Whatever It Takes" and is the same chapter in which the author tells the reader to "keep a journal," freewrite, and so forth. While these may be good practices to try out, they're not for every writer.
"Although these are tricks that can be taught and learned, they partake of the essential nature of creativity, in which several elements are joined to produce not merely a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts, but a whole that is something altogether other. At the conception of an embryo or a short story, there occurs a conjunction of two unlike things, whether cells or ideas, that have never been joined before. Around this conjunction other cells, other ideas accumulate in a deliberate pattern. That pattern is the unique personality of the creature, and if the pattern does not cohere, it miscarries or is stillborn." 312
Because I almost exclusively teach creative nonfiction, and because I write both fiction and creative nonfiction, I found myself looking through Burroway's observations about fiction to the fundamentals of good story-telling, and through craft to observations about our fundamental nature as created beings and as creators. Just an excellent text!