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What If?
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<>ContentsPreface

Introduction PART ONEBeginnings 1. First Sentences: Beginning in the Middle 2. Second Sentences as Different Paths 3. Ways to Begin a Story, from Robie Macauley 4. Begin a Story with a "Given" First Line, from William Kittredge 5. Free Associating from Random Sentences, from DeWitt Henry 6. Person, Place, and Song, from Ron Carlson 7. Stirring Up a Fiction Stew 8. The Newspaper Muse: Ann Landers and the National Enquirer 9. Taking Risks

PART TWOCharacterization 10. Oh! . . . That Sort of Person 11. What Do You Know About Your Characters? 12. Props 13. What Do Your Characters Want? 14. Making Heroes Flawed, from Douglas Bauer 15. Creating a Character's Background, Place, Setting, and Milieu, from Robie Macauley 16. Put Your Characters to Work 17. The Morning After 18. He/She: Switching Gender

PART THREEPerspective, Distance, and Point of View 19. First Person or Third 20. John Gardner on Psychic Distance 21. Shifts in Point of View 22. An Early Memory, Part One: The Child as Narrator 23. An Early Memory, Part Two: The Reminiscent Narrator 24. The Unreliable Narrator 25. Family Stories, Family Myths
PART FOURDialogue 26. Speech Flavor, or Sounding Real, from Thalia Selz 27. Telling Talk: When to Use Dialogue or Summarized Dialogue 28. Who Said That? 29. The Invisible Scene: Interspersing Dialogue with Action 30. A Verbal Dance: Not Quite a Fight PART FIVEThe Interior Landscape of Your Characters 31. The Interior Landscape of Vision and Obsession 32. What Mayhem or Scene Is Happening Elsewhere? 33. "I Know Just What She'll Say" 34. Mixed Motives and Maybes 35. The Need to Know: The Solace of Imagination 36. The Inside/Outside Story 37. Five Years from Now..... 38. Dream Work 39. The Power of "Seemed" and "Probably" PART SIXPlot 40. The Skeleton 41. From Situation to Plot 42. Peter Rabbit and Adam and Eve: The Elements of Plot, from Thomas Fox Averill 43. What If? How to Develop and Finish Stories 44. There's a Party and You're Invited, from Margot Livesey 45. So, What Happened? 46. Flash Forward: or Little Did I Know 47. Plot Potential 48. Back Story as Narrative Summary: Who's Coming to Stay the Night 49. The End Foretold PART SEVENThe Elements of Style 50. A Style of Your Own, from Rod Kessler 51. Taboos: Weak Adverbs and Adjectives 52. Word Packages Are Not Gifts 53. Practice Writing Good, Clean Prose, from Christopher Keane PART EIGHTA Writer's Toolbox 54. Handling the Problems of Time and Pace, from Robie Macauley 55. The Pet Story: Exposition, from Ron Carlson 56. Bringing Abstract Ideas to Life 57. Transportation: Getting There isn't Half the Fun-It's Boring 58. Naming the Diner, Naming the Diet, Naming the Dog 59. Transitions: Or White Space Does Not a Transition Make 60. How to Keep a Narrative Moving Forward 61. Noises Off: The Beauty of Extraneous Sound, from Laurence Davies 62. Separating Author, Narrator, and Character, from Frederick Reiken 63. Time Travel 64. Stairs: Setting and Place 65. Titles and Keys

PART NINEInvention and a Bit of Inspiration 66. Illustrations, from Margot Livesey 67. Bully 68. Far away Places 69. Story Swap: From Jordan Dann and the Aspen Writers' Foundation 70. Humor: an Intact Frog 71. Sunday: Discovering Emotional Triggers 72. Kill the Dog 73. Five Different Versions: And Not One Is a Lie 74. What You Carry 75. Psycho: Creating Terror 76. One in the Hand 77. Notes and Letters 78. The Chain Story

PART TENRevision: Rewriting Is Writing 79. Opening Up Your Story 80. Gifts to Yourself 81. Show and Tell: There's a Reason It's Called Storytelling, from Carol-Lynn Marrazzo 82. A Little Gardening, A Little Surgery 83. Magnifying Conflict, from David Ray 84. What's at Stake? from Ken Rivard 85. It Ain't Over Till It's Over 86. The Double Ending: Two Points in Time 87. In-Class Revision

PART ELEVENSudden, Flash, Micro, Nano: Writing the Short Short Story 88. Sudden Fiction, from James Thomas 89. Write a Story Using a Small Unit of Time 90. Solving for X, from Ron Carlson 91. The Journey of the Long Sentence 92. He said/She said: But About What! 93. Rules of the Game 94. Ten to One, from Hester Kaplan 95. Make a List 96. Questions. Some Answers 97. How to . . . . . . 98. Nanofictions PART TWELVELearning from the Greats 99. Finding Inspiration in Other Sources-Poetry, Nonfiction, etc. 100. The Sky's the Limit: Homage to Kafka and Garcia Marquez, from Christopher Noel 101. Learning from the Greats 102. Borrowing Characters 103. What Keeps You Reading? 104. The Literary Scene Circa 1893, 1929, 1948, or?, from George Garrett

PART THIRTEEN Notebooks, Journals, and Memory 105. Who Are You? Somebody! 106. People From the Past: Characters of the Future 107. An Image Notebook, from Melanie Rae Thon 108. Journal Keeping for Writers, from William Melvin Kelley 109. Creative Wrong Memory 110. Let Us Write Letters PART FOURTEENA Collection of Short Short Stories
LINDA BREWER 20/20
ANTONIA CLARK Excuses I Have Already Used BRIAN HINSHAW The Custodian MARIETTE LIPPO Confirmation Names MELISSA MCCRACKEN It Would've Been Hot JUDITH CLAIRE MITCHELL My Mother's Gifts PAMELA PAINTER The New Year GRACE PALEY Wants BRUCE HOLLAND ROGERS How Could a Mother ELIZABETH TALLENT No One's a Mystery LUISA VALENZUELA Vision Out of the Corner of One Eye
PART FIFTEENA Collection of Short Stories CHARLES BAXTER Gryphon RON CARLSON Some of Our Work with Monsters RAYMOND CARVER Cathedral SANDRA CISNEROS ElevenMICHAEL CUNNINGHAM White Angel DAGOBERTO GILB The Pillows PAM HOUSTON How to Talk to a Hunter HESTER KAPLAN WOULD YOU KNOW IT WASN'T LOVE?BOBBIE ANN MASON Shiloh THOMAS MCNEELY Sheep ALICE MUNRO Five Points ZZ Packer Brownies RICHARD RUSSO The Whore's Child JENNIFER SHAFF Leave of AbsenceKATE WHEELER Under the Roof

Selected Bibliography

About the Contributors of Exercises

Credits

Index

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