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The Story Cure


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A collection of cures for the most common stumbling blocks writers face when completing a novel or memoir, prescribed by the director of creative writing at Ohio University.

Table of Contents


Introduction: Notes from a Book Doctor 1


1 | The Story Cure: Diagnosing Problems of the Heart 7
2 | Your First Breath: Where Story Begins 31
3 | Prescriptions for Healthy Prose: Character, Dialogue, and Setting 57
4 | The Lifeblood Test: Scene and Sensory Detail 79
5 | A Visit with the Throat and Eye Doctors: Voice and Point of View 97
6 | The Strong Skeleton: Plot and Structure 125


7 | Keeping Fit: Moving from First Draft to Fifteenth Draft 143
8 | An Apple a Day: Healthy Habits for Any Writer 151
9 | The Book Doctor's Final Illegible Scribbles 159

Notes 163

About the Author

DINTY W. MOORE is director of Ohio University's BA, MA, and PhD in creative writing programs. He has authored various books of literary nonfiction as well as textbooks and craft guides, most notably Dear Mister Essay Writer Guy andhis memoir, Between Panic & Desire, winner of the Grub Street Nonfiction Book Prize. He has been published in Harpers, the New York Times Sunday Magazine, the Philadelphia Inquirer, Utne Reader, Salon, Okey-Panky, the Southern Review, the Georgia Review, and the Los Angeles Review of Books. Moore is founder and editor of Brevity and is a frequent speaker and teacher at writers' conferences.


". . .for anyone who has been writing for a while but feels stuck."
- Library Journal

"Professor and veteran writer Moore delivers a clear, compact writing guide. . . . few guides are as tight, thorough, and engaging as this one. . . . In a field littered with gimmicky advice, this strong, lean title stands out."
- Booklist

". . . a handbook for writers who have encountered artistic ailments such as writer's block, character anemia, flat plot, and silent voice. Moore's signature wit and wisdom are once again on display in this useful guide for writers of all levels of experience."
- Poets & Writers

"Writing a novel is a daunting task, a labyrinth filled with thorny obstacles of all kinds. The Story Cure provides tonics for many of the ailments that can plague a novel, but most importantly, it probes the key part of any creative endeavor: the heart of the story."
- Grant Faulkner, Executive Director of National Novel Writing Month

""Moore is the longtime director of the writing programs at Ohio University and an all-around writing guru. Even with all of these lives, Moore manages to write his own nonfiction and his own books about writing. So this prolific author is a physician who has healed himself - The best endorsement for any book doctor. . . We write from our wounds - brandishing our story like a brimming salve - to reach the wounds of others. And so The Story Cure cures the story."
- Texas Public Radio's Texas Matters

Praise for Dinty W. Moore's Dear Mister Essay Writer Guy:

". . . a guide to writing essays that is both brilliantly instructive and wonderfully entertaining. . . . Highly recommended for writers and anyone who loves to laugh out loud while they read."
- Library Journal
(starred review)

"[A] witty and disarming new book. . . . he sneaks in answers so we are left with a touch of wisdom as well as laughter."
- BBC.com

"Moore at his best. It's witty but also substantial, and the conversations between Moore and his interlocutors get to the heart of what makes the essay such a compelling form: its capacity to render, on the page, the human experience."
- The Rumpus

". . . the book as a whole will leave you feeling educated, amused, and perhaps even inspired."
- The A.V. Club

"Dear Mister Essay Writer Guy is an enjoyable read . . . Its witty, modest tone belies the artistry of the essays contained, which are exemplars of the short form."
- Shelf Awareness

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