Synopses & Reviews
The Stuff of Fiction
is a collection of lively essays by esteemed novelist Douglas Bauer on the tools of the fiction writer's craft. Based on his popular lectures as a core faculty member in the Bennington Writing Seminars, individual chapters examine the components of successful stories, from creating the first sentence to crafting a fitting ending.
Bauer's primary focus is on three critical elements of fiction writing: dialogue, character, and dramatic event. He sees dialogue as an overheard conversation that has an inherent intimacy and power that should not be squandered by the writer. He discusses the challenge of creating characters that are psychologically complex, both flawed and sympathetic. He cautions new writers against overloading their stories with highly dramatic events--or avoiding them altogether.
The book draws upon work by a range of contemporary fiction writers, including Alice Munro, John Cheever, William Kennedy, Alice McDermott, and Denis Johnson. The Stuff of Fiction recognizes that, finally, the most crucial element for a fiction writer is that which cannot be taught: talent. But it also recognizes that without developing a regular habit of work, a doggedness of effort, no amount of talent can come forward and be recognized.
Douglas Bauer is author of the novels The Book of Famous Iowans, The Very Air, and Dexterity. His essays have appeared in Writers' Chronicle, Atlantic Monthly, Esquire, Playboy, and New York Times Book Review.
Additional information is available on the author's Web site: http://www.douglasbauer.org.
A master storyteller and teacher talks about the tools of the fiction writer's craft