Imaginative Writing

Edition: 4th
Format: Paperback
Pub. Date: 2014-10-23
Publisher(s): Pearson
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For courses in Introduction to  Creative Writing or Creative Writing in English or Creative Writing Departments. 


 Written by bestselling author Janet Burroway, Imaginative Writing, covers all four genres: creative nonfiction, fiction, poetry, and drama. This textbook discusses elements of craft common to all creative writing before delving into the individual genres. After an introduction, the next five chapters each investigate a specific element of craft—Image, Voice, Character, Setting, and Story—from a perspective that crosses all genres. Nearly half of the selections in all four genres are new. New "Try This" exercises give students plenty of practice. Imaginative Writing is a very popular book for courses on teaching the craft of creative writing.

Author Biography

JANET BURROWAY is the author of plays, poetry, essays, children’s books, and eight novels including The Buzzards, Raw Silk (runner up for the National Book Award), Opening Nights, Cutting Stone, and Bridge of Sand. Her other publications include a collection of personal essays, Embalming Mom, in addition to a volume of poetry, Material Goods, and three children’s books in verse, The Truck on the Track, The Giant Jam Sandwich, and The Perfect Pig. Her plays Medea with Child (The Reva Shiner Award), Sweepstakes, Division of Property (Arts & Letters Award), and Parts of Speech have received readings and productions in New York, London, San Francisco, Hollywood, Chicago, and various regional theaters. Her textbook Writing Fiction, now in its ninth edition, is the most widely used creative writing text in the United States. Her most recent books are a memoir, Losing Tim, and a collection of essays she has edited, A Story Larger Than My Own: Women Writers Look Back on Their Lives and Careers. She is Robert O. Lawton Distinguished Professor Emerita at the Florida State University in Tallahassee and has most recently taught in the MFA Program in Creative Writing at Northwestern University.

Table of Contents


Chapter 1 Invitation to the Writer

You …

… and writing …

… and reading …

… and this book …

… and your journal …

Journal Excerpts

        Ayelet Waldman

        Billy Collins

        Cris Mazza

        Patricia Henley

        Philip Graham

A word about your workshop …


Part I  The Elements of Craft

Chapter 2 Image

Image and Imagination

Concrete, Significant Details

Figures of Speech


Creative Nonfiction

        Annie Dillard

                from Heaven and Earth in Jest

        David Sedaris

                Standing By


        Tobias Wolff

                Bullet in the Brain

        Jamaica Kincaid



        Roger Bonair-Agard

                American History looks for light—a prayer for the survival of Barack Obama

        Billy Collins

                Snow Day

Yusef Komunyakaa

        Facing It


        Jane Martin

                French Fries

Chapter 3 Voice

Your Voice



Character Voice

Point of View


Creative Nonfiction

        Alice Walker

                Beauty: When the Other Dancer Is the Self

        Warren J. Bowe

                Guns for Teachers


        George Saunders

                Victory Lap

        Jorge Luis Borges

                The Book of Sand


        Alicia Ostriker

                Wrong About the Horse

        Barbara Hamby

                Ode to American English

        Adam J. Ruben

                The Grad Student Rap


Chuck O’Connor  

High Hard Ones a Play

Chapter 4 Character

Character as Desire

Character as Image

Character as Voice

Character as Action

Character as Thought

Character as Presented by the Author

Character as Conflict

Stock and Flat Characters


Creative Nonfiction

        Aleksandar Hemon

                The Book of My Life

        Benjamin Percy

                Me vs. Animals


        Richard Bausch

                Tandolfo the Great


        Theodore Roethke

                I Knew a Woman

        Carole Simmons Oles


        Elizabeth Jennings

                One Flesh

        Kaylin Haught

                God Says Yes to Me


        Molly Campbell

                Telephone Bob

Chapter 5 Setting

Setting as the World

Setting as a Camera

Setting as Mood and Symbol

Setting as Action


Creative Nonfiction

        Joan Didion

                At the Dam


        Donald Barthelme

                The School

        Angela Carter

                The Werewolf


        Sherman Alexie

                At Navajo Monument Valley Tribal School

        John Freeman


        Philip Appleman

                Nobody Dies in the Spring

        Yusef Komunyakaa

                Nude Interrogation


        David Ives

                The Philadelphia

Chapter 6 Story

As a Journey

As a Power Struggle

As Connection and Disconnection


Creative Nonfiction

        Patricia Hampl

                Red Sky in the Morning


        David Foster Wallace

                Incarnations of Burned Children

        Scott Blackwood

                One of Us Is Hidden Away


        Robert Hass

                A Story About the Body

        Albert Goldbarth

                Columbine High School/Littleton, CO

        Maxine Kumin


        Li-Young Lee

                The Hammock


        Lanford Wilson


Chapter 7 Development and Revision

Developing a Draft





The Workshop


        Elizabeth Bishop: First and Final Drafts of “One Art”

        Patty Seyburn: “Anatomy of Disorder”

        Janet Burroway: The Opening of Indian Dancer

Part II  The Genres

Chapter 8 Creative Nonfiction

The Essay and Creative Nonfiction

Memoir and the Personal Essay

Techniques of Creative Nonfiction

Fact and Truth


        Gayle Pemberton

                Do He Have Your Number, Mr. Jeffrey?

        Margaret Atwood

                The Female Body

        S. L. Wisenberg

                Margot’s Diary

        Michael Chabon

                Ragnarok Boy

Creative Nonfiction Format

Chapter 9 Fiction

Story and Plot

Scene and Summary

Backstory and Flashback

Text and Subtext


        Amy Bloom

                The Story

        Ernest Hemingway

                A Very Short Story

        Ursula K. Le Guin

                The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas

        Edith Pearlman

                Self Reliance

        Ron Carlson

                Bigfoot Stole My Wife

Fiction Format

Chapter 10 Poetry

Formal and Free Verse

Working with Sound

The Poetic Line

Imagery, Connotation, and Metaphor

Density and Intensity

Finding the Poem


        Gerald Stern

                Columbia the Gem

        Sylvia Plath


        Steve Kowit

                The Grammar Lesson

        Tony Hoagland

                There Is No Word

        Grace Paley


        Erin Belieu

                Love Is Not an Emergency

        Sharon Olds

                The Language of the Brag

        Nick Laird


Poetry Format

Chapter 11 Drama

The Difference Between Drama and Fiction

Sight: Sets, Action, Costumes, Props

Sound: Verbal and Nonverbal

Structure: Making a Scene

The Ten-Minute Play


        Anton Chekhov

                The Proposal

        José Rivera


        William Dunne

                Good Morning, Romeo

        Joe DiPietro

                Executive Dance

Drama Format

Appendix A: A Basic Prosody

Appendix B: Line Editing




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