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on 18 January 1997
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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on 2 May 1999
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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on 17 July 2009
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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on 24 August 2015
I really don't like this book. From when I had a copy years ago and tried to find it now, I remembered I had thrown it: Rereading the sample, I understand why. It is such a 'Write like this, don't do that, this is what you have to do to do it right' kind of book. I find it nearly 'academic' in its form and that, for me, is the problem. There is little warmth in it that I can relate to as a writer 'on' writing. It's like a manual with a lot thrown at the reader all at once.
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on 23 December 1998
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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on 8 June 2011
I used to write a lot, but for years now, although I kept saying that I love writing and that I would like to publish a book at some point, I did not actually do any writing at all. So a few months ago when I decided to take up writing again, I was very disappointed to see that it was extremely hard to start to write at all. This is partly because I do not use my native language often enough, so that is a bit rusty in places, and yet I am not as fluent in English as a writer would be, so the whole process of writing is a bit intimidating. I have been searching some guide books to get me started with some exercises and give my confidence back. I have got three books based on Amazon reviews. I started with this one, as being the shorter book and with very short sections, it seemed very accessible. It is a great book. Every section has a short introduction, some passages to read, the exercise, the objective of the exercise and some samples from the authors' students. The exercises are nice and easy to get on with. I went to my day job normally and spent half an hour a day for the exercises. After completing one exercise (one section) per day for about a week, I just could not wait to actually get through the whole book right away. So I read 76 sections in a single day! Of course this was not a very careful read but having not completed any creative writing course before, I wanted to first have an idea about all the major issues to consider and take some notes about the key elements to keep in mind. Now, I am ready to go through the whole book slowly and do 1 exercise per day. The good thing is that, although most of the exercises are concise enough to be completed in half an hour, they also seem versatile and you could go back and spend much more time if you wish, improving, modifying etc. I am not sure how helpful it would be if you are a higher level writer but it was a very good book for me.
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on 23 December 1998
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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on 2 March 2017
A very dense piece of work that will certainly improve many a writer's art and craft, if they do the exercises.
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on 25 April 1999
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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on 4 January 2007
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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