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A collection of personal writing exercises and commentary from some of today's best novelists, short story writers, and writing teachers, including Jill McCorkle, Amy Bloom, Robert Olen Butler, Steve Almond, Jayne Anne Phillips, Virgil Suárez, Margot Livesay, and more. What's the secret behind the successful and prolific careers of critically acclaimed novelists and short A collection of personal writing exercises and commentary from some of today's best novelists, short story writers, and writing teachers, including Jill McCorkle, Amy Bloom, Robert Olen Butler, Steve Almond, Jayne Anne Phillips, Virgil Suárez, Margot Livesay, and more. What's the secret behind the successful and prolific careers of critically acclaimed novelists and short story writers Amy Bloom, Steve Almond, Jayne Anne Phillips, Alison Lurie, and others? Divine assistance? Otherworldly talent? An unsettlingly close relationship with the Muse? While the rest of us are staring at blank sheets of paper, struggling to come up with a first sentence, these writers are busy polishing off story after story and novel after novel. Despite producing work that may seem effortless, all of them have a simple technique for fending off writer's block: the writing exercise. In Now Write!, Sherry Ellis collects the personal writing exercises of today's best writers and lays bare the secret to their success. - In "The Photograph," Jill McCorkle divulges one of her tactics for handling material that takes plots in a million different directions; - National Book Award-nominee Amy Bloom offers "Water Buddies," an exercise for writers practicing their craft in workshops; - Steve Almond, author of My Life in Heavy Metal and Candyfreak, provides a way to avoiding purple prose in "The Five-Second Shortcut to Writing in the Lyric Register"; - and eighty-three more of the country's top writers disclose their strategies for creating memorable prose. Complemented by brief commentary from the authors themselves, the exercises in Now Write! are practical and hands-on. By encouraging writers to shamelessly steal proven techniques that have yielded books which have won National Book Awards, Pulitzers, and Guggenheim grants, Now Write! inspires the aspiring writer to write now.


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A collection of personal writing exercises and commentary from some of today's best novelists, short story writers, and writing teachers, including Jill McCorkle, Amy Bloom, Robert Olen Butler, Steve Almond, Jayne Anne Phillips, Virgil Suárez, Margot Livesay, and more. What's the secret behind the successful and prolific careers of critically acclaimed novelists and short A collection of personal writing exercises and commentary from some of today's best novelists, short story writers, and writing teachers, including Jill McCorkle, Amy Bloom, Robert Olen Butler, Steve Almond, Jayne Anne Phillips, Virgil Suárez, Margot Livesay, and more. What's the secret behind the successful and prolific careers of critically acclaimed novelists and short story writers Amy Bloom, Steve Almond, Jayne Anne Phillips, Alison Lurie, and others? Divine assistance? Otherworldly talent? An unsettlingly close relationship with the Muse? While the rest of us are staring at blank sheets of paper, struggling to come up with a first sentence, these writers are busy polishing off story after story and novel after novel. Despite producing work that may seem effortless, all of them have a simple technique for fending off writer's block: the writing exercise. In Now Write!, Sherry Ellis collects the personal writing exercises of today's best writers and lays bare the secret to their success. - In "The Photograph," Jill McCorkle divulges one of her tactics for handling material that takes plots in a million different directions; - National Book Award-nominee Amy Bloom offers "Water Buddies," an exercise for writers practicing their craft in workshops; - Steve Almond, author of My Life in Heavy Metal and Candyfreak, provides a way to avoiding purple prose in "The Five-Second Shortcut to Writing in the Lyric Register"; - and eighty-three more of the country's top writers disclose their strategies for creating memorable prose. Complemented by brief commentary from the authors themselves, the exercises in Now Write! are practical and hands-on. By encouraging writers to shamelessly steal proven techniques that have yielded books which have won National Book Awards, Pulitzers, and Guggenheim grants, Now Write! inspires the aspiring writer to write now.

30 review for Now Write!: Fiction Writing Exercises from Today's Best Writers and Teachers

  1. 5 out of 5

    Thomas

    Now Write! is a useful addition to the bookshelf for writers, especially those who also teach creative writing. I immediately started using some of the exercises in my fiction class. I had a moment where I laughed out loud. Amidst the usual exercises on character and point of view there was this advice from Kathleen Spivak in her "The Writing Exercise: A Recipe." Ingredients and Preparation Before bedtime, pick up the alarm clock. Set it to ring two hours earlier than your usual wake-up time. Sleep. Now Write! is a useful addition to the bookshelf for writers, especially those who also teach creative writing. I immediately started using some of the exercises in my fiction class. I had a moment where I laughed out loud. Amidst the usual exercises on character and point of view there was this advice from Kathleen Spivak in her "The Writing Exercise: A Recipe." Ingredients and Preparation Before bedtime, pick up the alarm clock. Set it to ring two hours earlier than your usual wake-up time. Sleep. Or don't. But get up anyway. Put a mug of coffee, tea, or other comfort in your hands. Now go to your desk immediately. Sit down. Look dazed. Open the computer-mind. Work on a writing project--somehow for two hours. Don't complain. (Spivak 64). She goes on to describe doing for it a year, comparing the writing project to a "dominatrix" and a "virus that takes hold." I loved it. Such brutal practicality amused me. Art will always require sacrifice as she makes clear. For teachers of writing chapters like Crystal Wilkinson's "Birth of a Story in an Hour or Less" make this collection of essays well worth the price of admission.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Christina

    There are some magnificent writing exercises in this book. I found numerous helpful prompts that I will definitely be using in the near future. I highly recommend this book to other aspiring writers.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Robert Beveridge

    Sherry Ellis (ed.), Now Write!: Fiction Exercises from Today's Best Teachers and Writers (Tarcher, 2006) Exactly what it says it is: a compendium of writing exercises from various folks. Ellis herself is entirely transparent aside from a brief introduction; from there, it's the writers and nothing but. Needless to say, in a book like this, especially with so many different contributors (there are eighty-two different sections), you're bound to have some inconsistency. As well, it sometimes seems a Sherry Ellis (ed.), Now Write!: Fiction Exercises from Today's Best Teachers and Writers (Tarcher, 2006) Exactly what it says it is: a compendium of writing exercises from various folks. Ellis herself is entirely transparent aside from a brief introduction; from there, it's the writers and nothing but. Needless to say, in a book like this, especially with so many different contributors (there are eighty-two different sections), you're bound to have some inconsistency. As well, it sometimes seems as if there's just too much of a good thing; we go right from one exercise into the next, with only the barest separation into chapters designed to highlight different emphases in the exercises. I think most people will find a handful, or maybe a dozen, exercises they like and continually come back to those, rather than utilizing everything in the book. ***

  4. 4 out of 5

    Amanda Patterson

    Excellent fiction writing exercises.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Ann Harleman

    Many great exercises in Now Write! If you have a minute, please take a look at mine🙄: “More Is More: An Exercise in Revising Your Story.” I’d love to hear what you think. This exercise is the outgrowth of two decades of teaching creative writing to visual artists @rhodeislandschoolofdesign. Thanks 🙏 to all my students! I miss you! ❤️

  6. 5 out of 5

    Cooper

    A quick and easy read, the passages and writing exercises by various authors was a great inspiration that there is no one right way to write. The important thing is to write. From reflections on research, story development, and character depth, this is a handy and welcomed addition to my writing library.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Shayla Raquel

    I specifically purchased this book to brainstorm writing exercises for my local writing group. I was surprised by how many useful, out-of-the-box exercises were covered in Sherry Ellis’s book. Now Write! provides exercises for POV, character development, dialogue, plot and pacing, setting and description, craft, and revision. I recommend bringing along some sticky labels to bookmark your favorite writing exercises. Definitely a book you’ll keep coming back to again and again.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Christy

    I'm thinking of using this book for my next Writing Group session. I've only looked through the first few exercises, but I like what I've seen so far. The first exercise is from Jayne Anne Phillips, the author of Black Tickets among others... anyone who has taken Marc's classes would recognize her as the author with the wedding photo on the front cover of her book. I think doing something with wedding photos would be fun, especially given the demographic of my group. Update: I used some of these w I'm thinking of using this book for my next Writing Group session. I've only looked through the first few exercises, but I like what I've seen so far. The first exercise is from Jayne Anne Phillips, the author of Black Tickets among others... anyone who has taken Marc's classes would recognize her as the author with the wedding photo on the front cover of her book. I think doing something with wedding photos would be fun, especially given the demographic of my group. Update: I used some of these with the group (the wedding photo one did go quite well.) Overall, it was good.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Jessi Dazzo

    This book got me thinking about my writing. Its full of exercises that have ultimately created many story ideas for me to work with. But a lot of the writing exercises were too complicated/time consuming for me to get into. I may have to re-read this at some point when I have more time to devote to lengthy exercises. However, there are a lot of helpful tips in here to get you to take a closer look at your writing and I would recommend it to anyone wanting to "delve deep" and take a good look at This book got me thinking about my writing. Its full of exercises that have ultimately created many story ideas for me to work with. But a lot of the writing exercises were too complicated/time consuming for me to get into. I may have to re-read this at some point when I have more time to devote to lengthy exercises. However, there are a lot of helpful tips in here to get you to take a closer look at your writing and I would recommend it to anyone wanting to "delve deep" and take a good look at how they write and what works and what doesn't when creating a story.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Jenny

    I was turned off by this book at the first few exercises. But after a while I did find some brilliant exercises that really helped clarify my writing. Some of the authors just like to hear the sound of their voice. But others really do know what they are talking about. So it is worth a read for those that are interested in writing effectively.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Morgan

    This is an interesting collection of writing prompts and musings from some serious teachers. Unfortunately, it's all at too high a level for my high school students. I'd recommend it to advanced writers. It's a taste of a writing workshop at home.

  12. 5 out of 5

    L.A. Jacob

    Some of these exercises were great (The Collage is one I like to use now), and some, well, you can tell they're written by new agers with their whole "guided imagery" thing. In general, this is one of the best books on prompts and exercises that I've read.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Lita

    Even though I teach middle school, many of these exercises can be tweaked/ reworded for adolescent creative writers. Even if the exercises don't work the way you envisioned, they still work.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Keith Cochran

    I liked this book for the advice given by Ramsey Campbell and Jack Ketchum alone. Two of my favorite authors. Very good advice and exercises from current authors. I suggest picking this up and reading it cover to cover, twice.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Heather Larcombe

    Another of those "reading this for no particular reason" books. I'm not a writer, and don't particularly intend to become one, but I'm still interested in the process and the tools. You never know what knowledge might come in handy someday.

  16. 4 out of 5

    elizabeth

    Includes exercises from Wolverines Laura Kasischke and Eileen Pollack as well as former-Wolverines Nancy Resiman and Rick Hillis. Wolverines sounds more impressive than Michiganders or ‘people affiliated with the University of Michigan MFA program’, no?

  17. 5 out of 5

    Kate

    I'm teaching a fiction writing class and using this book. It's chockful of great exercises to get you started writing--and to get you moving more deeply into--fiction. There is also some excellent craft discussion on Point of View, Character Development, Dialogue, Plot and Pacing, Setting, etc.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Jess

    Writing exercises geared towards developing projects, and jump starting your brain.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Brittney

    Great book for prompts to start writing.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Mathis Bailey

    This book has good tips for aspiring novelists.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Heather

    i read maybe 1/4 of the book this morning -- there's really excellent breadth in the exercises. great for working on various elements of a story, depending on your mood or current worry. :)

  22. 5 out of 5

    Theresa

    Terrific collection of writing exercises. I use this book almost every day in my fiction writing practice.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Marie-pierre Stien

    A good book, except I never wanted to do any of the exercises in it.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Mike

    Good series of exercises and challenges on writing techniques Read but on my reference shelf.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Varrsity

    This has some very useful exercises to get your creative juices flowing.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Melissa

    Trying to generate some new materials, so I returned to flipping through this book I picked up a writer's conference in '07.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Eliza

    Loved the range of ideas, pulled out a few exercises that would work for my middle school kids. This book would work well with a high school AP or Honors class :)

  28. 4 out of 5

    Nancy Zigler

  29. 5 out of 5

    Mumby

  30. 4 out of 5

    Emma

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