Tag: creative writing

Imaginative Writing (2007)

Janet Burroway, Imaginative Writing. The Elements of Craft. New York: Penguin Academics, 2007.
My rating: ***

Imaginative Writing: The Elements of Craft (2nd Edition) Imaginative Writing: The Elements of Craft by Janet Burroway

This is a large and detailed book on how to engage in creative writing. Each chapter contains explanations of various elements such as ‘image’, ‘voice’, ‘character’. It covers techniques of fiction writing, creative non fiction, poetry and drama.

Each chapter contains short exercises scattered throughout the text but handily enclosed in highlighted text boxes. These can be undertaken in writing workshops or by an individual writer. At the end of each chapter, there are short stories, short pieces of creative non fiction, poems and short drama scripts.

The exercises are very useful and the explanations of the various categories are detailed and useful as well. This is a great textbook for use in creative writing workshops.

I only have a few relatively minor quibbles. The first is that it is not always clear how the pieces of writing at the end of the chapter form examples of what has just been discussed. The second is that as the book goes on, the selections of material become a veritable gloom fest leading into serious slit your wrist territory. Some of poetry on the other hand is a bit less maudlin and I found some of the pieces quite clever and amusing.

Another problem is a purely geographical one. Working with this book in an Australian context the overwhelming focus on North American examples and literature has a rather alienating effect. But this can be easily remedied by modfiying the exercises to give them a more local flavour and choosing different short stories as examples.

All in all, this is a wonderfully comprehensive text which can be used at both the introductory and advanced levels in teaching creative writing.

Searching for the Secret River (2006)

Kate Grenville, Searching for the Secret River, Melbourne: Text Publishing Company, 2006.
My rating: ***

Searching for the Secret River Searching for the Secret River by Kate Grenville

In this book the Australian writer Kate Grenville explains the process – both in terms of research and creative composition – that she went through in the writing of her award winning novel The Secret River.

I am always interested in the mechanics of how writers actually produce their work and this makes for a fascinating read. It shows that writing is by no means a breezily easy process.

The Writing Book (1990)

Kate Grenville, The Writing Book. A Workbook for Fiction Writers. Crows Nest: Allen & Unwin, 1990.
My rating: ****

The Writing Book: A Workbook for Fiction Writers The Writing Book: A Workbook for Fiction Writers by Kate Grenville

This is a really excellent work book for people who want to write or who are currently writing fiction. It is also an incredibly useful book for people like myself who are running workshops on creative writing.

Each chapter is divided into 3 sections. The first section explains the category – eg character, voice, point of view, dialogue, the second section offers examples and the third offers large numbers of practical exercises which can be used either by the solitary writer or in a workshop.

The other thing I like about this book is that it uses Australian material which makes it easier to engage my students, who are of course all doing the course in Australia. Kate Grenville also writes in an easy conversational style which makes for enjoyable reading.