Thing Feigned or Imagined: The Craft in Fiction (Fred Stenson)

Aside from the title, which I loathe, this is exactly what I have been looking for: a practical how-to book on the craft of writing fiction that I can adopt as a required text in my creative writing classes. I have been looking for a plain-spoken, practical, down-to-earth, and intelligent book without any marketing-speak, and this is that book.

Best of all, it includes five strong short stories — by Greg Hollingshead, Diane Schoemperlen, Edna Alford, Rachel Wyatt, and Fred Stenson himself — that Stenson refers to and analyzes throughout. It's so useful to have short stories in a writing textbook that I can't believe I haven't seen it in any other similar book.

My tastes are much different than Stenson's but we agree on how a book on writing should look. This isn't the best or most thorough book I've seen, but as a general overview of writing craft and a good introductory textbook it can't be beat. In fact, it IS an introductory creative writing course in a nutshell: each chapter ends with some exercises and if you were to actually read through carefully and complete all the exercises you would have finished a decent little self-directed course.

— Jonathan Ball

 

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Jonathan Ball is a writer, filmmaker, and scholar living at www.jonathanball.com.

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2 thoughts on “Thing Feigned or Imagined: The Craft in Fiction (Fred Stenson)

  1. Is it useful for anything more than an introduction, though? You mention that it’s exactly the aid you want in teaching classes, but did you get anything out of it you didn’t have before?

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