Narrative Design: Working with Imagination, Craft, and Form

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W. W. Norton & Company, Apr 17, 2000 - Reference - 392 pages

With clarity, verve, and the sure instincts of a good teacher, Madison Smartt Bell offers a roll-up-your-sleeves approach to writing in this much-needed book.

Focusing on the big picture as well as the crucial details, Bell examines twelve stories by both established writers (including Peter Taylor, Mary Gaitskill, and Carolyn Chute) and his own former students. A story's use of time, plot, character, and other elements of fiction are analyzed, and readers are challenged to see each story's flaws and strengths. Careful endnotes bring attention to the ways in which various writers use language. Bell urges writers to develop the habit of thinking about form and finding the form that best suits their subject matter and style. His direct and practical advice allows writers to find their own voice and imagination.

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User Review  - ElizabethAndrew - LibraryThing

An in-depth study of form in fiction. Bell posits two categories of structure: linear and module. Smart readings of examples, but not much advice about process--how to find a form fitting for your content. Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - labwriter - LibraryThing

Not your usual writing how-to. I found it tremendously useful. For each story he analyzes plot, character, tone, point of view, dialogue, symbolism, and design. This is a workbook, not a theory or ... Read full review


A Wife of Nashville by Peter Taylor
Daisys Valentine by Mary Gaitskill

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About the author (2000)

Madison Smartt Bell is the author of seventeen novels, his most recent being Behind the Moon. He teaches at Goucher College and lives in Baltimore, Maryland.

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