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Beyond the First Draft: The Art of Fiction…

Beyond the First Draft: The Art of Fiction

by John Casey

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This is not normally the kind of writing book I like - I normally prefer a more practical approach, and one that focuses on fiction that's more plot-driven than I'm willing to bet Casey writes - but I enjoyed this quite a lot for what it was: a series of meditations on the gap between bad fiction and good, and good fiction and great. ( )
  jen.e.moore | Oct 2, 2016 |
Almost certainly it would be better to have come to this after having read some of John Casey’s novels or short stories. He is probably a sensitive novelist. I suspect he is a good teacher as well, affable and constructive. But he isn’t a great essayist. And so this collection, though at times affable and constructive and sensitive to the real challenges that face writers, is not particularly helpful. In fact, where it succeeds best is when Casey moves away from the instructive essay and reflects upon his own life as a reader and as a writer. The essay “Childhood Reading” is delightful. It is filled with Casey’s early enthusiasm, his confusion with certain novels, and his pleasure in sharing a much-loved book with a close friend. He describes himself as a natural reader as opposed to a writer. But perhaps that is true for all writers. I also like the content (but not the form) of the final essay on mentors. Casey was lucky enough to have found a worthy mentor early in his career and wise enough to realize that mentoring is not just about instruction. If you are lucky, your mentor will point out something you’ve never seen before. Not unlike a friend.

I wish I could offer a stronger recommendation for this book. It isn’t pointless to read. Just not essential. ( )
  RandyMetcalfe | Mar 15, 2016 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0393241084, Hardcover)

For students and writers alike, a brilliant guide to the craft of writing by the National Book Award–winning author of Spartina.

From acclaimed novelist John Casey comes a book of “suggestions about things to do, things to think about when your writing has got you lost in the woods.” In “Dogma and Anti-Dogma,” Casey contemplates whether you can in fact teach someone to write; in “What’s Funny?” he muses on humor in writing; in “If I Were a Flower, What Kind of Flower Would I Be,” he tells the story of himself as a young writer acting in a play and considers the idea of writing as performance; and in “In Other Words,” he discusses the art of translation. Also included are discussions of point of view, voice, structure, scene-setting, and more. Gleaned from a lifetime of writing, reading, and teaching, this original-minded, clever, and always illuminating guide is sure to engage and motivate readers through the subtle and magical art of writing fiction.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:02:11 -0400)

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