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What If?: Writing Exercises for Fiction Writers Paperback – 1 Jan 2005

4.6 out of 5 stars 45 customer reviews

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  • What If?: Writing Exercises for Fiction Writers
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  • The Five-Minute Writer: Exercise and inspiration in creative writing in five minutes a day
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Product details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers; Reissue edition (2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0062720066
  • ISBN-13: 978-0062720061
  • Product Dimensions: 13.5 x 1.5 x 20.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (45 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 22,799 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

About the Author

Anne Bernays, a novelist and writing teacher, is the author of eight novels, including Professor Romeo and Growing Up Rich, as well as two works of nonfiction, including The Language of Names written with Justin Kaplan and What If? written with Pamela Painter. Her articles and essays have appeared in numerous major publications, among them The Nation, the New York Times, Town & Country, and Sports Illustrated. She lives in Cambridge and Truro, Massachusetts with her husband, Justin Kaplan. They have three daughters and six grandchildren.


Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
As a writer and teacher of creative writing I find this a gold mine for starter activities and longer writing exercises. It lets you try out approaches and techniques rather than being a how to guide to creative writing- and most importantly shares with you the results of other writers (both famous and unknown) who have done the exercises.
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Format: Paperback
I've done a lot of reading on writing fiction, and this is by far one of the best. While other books talk about how to go about writing, this one gives you exercises designed to guide you to putting those ideas into practice. It's guarenteed to improve your writing! My writing group has used it for about a year and the members love it.
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Format: Paperback
The great thing about this book is that the chapters are so short and give you exercises to do right now without a lot of prerequisite preparation. I have written a few stories just based on the exercises. They unearth valuable memories that can be used to enliven stories.
The authors also point out that *everybody's* life is printworthy. If you take the time to remember the large tangle of interesting experiences you've had, many can be used in fiction.
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Format: Paperback
These authors teach creative writing and use the results of their classroom curriculum to our benefit. The exercise introduction is by the authors or invited contributors. Each topic contains ample, clear examples to consider before attempting the exercises.
The authors provide concise, succinct instructions, and more importantly, the reasons for each exercise. They also suggest expected outcomes as a result of each exercise's completion. They use student submissions (with permission from the students) to show typical exercise results.
I find this book in tune with my desire to write good fiction and my current writing skill level. I have found the book very useful. I have incorporated several exercises in my daily writing.
I recommend this book to those who do not have easy access
to classroom Creative Writing course work.
Reviewer: David Haseman
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Format: Paperback
I was given this as a gift by a friend who knew I was about to begin my degree in Creative Writing, and it has helped a great deal. It goes right the way through everything that anyone interested in writing needs to know.

+ How to begin a story - First sentences, history, ways to do it
+ Journals and memory - tips on how to store your ideas and think methodically
+ Characterization - putting your heart onto the page, history, memory
+ Perspectives
+ Plot
+ etc

It covers everything in a simple easy-to-understand manner that anyone can grasp. It leaves exercises for you to do in your own time that are easy enough to accomplish and really help in the long run, and you can also follow it in any order you want - as it states on the opening page. There's no linear route to how you learn with this book. It is by far one of the best exercise books I have used, and I wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone who is looking at this product. I also recommend it to English students or anyone doing something with writing - it is very helpful indeed.
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Format: Paperback
I teach creative writing in the UCLA Writer's Program (online) and always recommend this book to my students as one of the two best books (along with Janet Burroway's "Writing Fiction") on the craft of writing ever penned. I have used the information in this book time and again in writing my own novels and stories ("The Death of Tarpons" (novel), "Monday's Meal" (story collection), "Over Easy" (thriller forthcoming from Random House, 1999). A more intelligent book than this has yet to be written. If you aspire to create memorable, quality prose, you must buy this book! It will aid you throughout your writing career in thousands of ways. Five stars is not enough to award this book, which I'm sure is destined to become a classic if it is not already considered so.
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By A Customer on 25 April 1999
Format: Paperback
I like the fact this book gives you a mini-workshop you can take at home. Whereas it is not a substite for really tuition, it is a mine for new ideas and plots. I lent it to my creative writing teacher a couple of months ago and he hasn't yet given it back to me! My only problem with this book is I didn't really understand the point of a couple of exercises, but then again it might be because I am not a native English speaker. However, it's still a good purchase if you don't have the time or the inclination to go to a workshop.
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Format: Paperback
I am a beginning writer with very little experience. This book, along with "Writing Down the Bones"(Natalie Goldberg) and "The Art of Fiction"(John Gardner), is an absolute must if you want to write satisfying and realistic stories.
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