In this follow-up to The Creative Writer Level 1: Five Finger Exercises, Boris Fishman leads students deeper into the art of short story and poetry writing. The Creative Writer Level 2: Essential Ingredients explores such essentials as character, plot, suspense, and setting for short story writing, and ideas, sounds, rhythm, and repetition for poetry writing. This is the second in a projected 4-volume series, and for many students will be a better place to start than Level 1.
Whereas Fishman's previous book was designed as a bare-bones introduction, this one actually equips students with some of the essential tools for writing a coherent story or poem. Using actual works ("The Golden Goose" to represent short stories; several famous and classic poems to represent poetry), he draws attention to specifics before presenting assignments in which students can plan, think about, and write their own pieces.
The Creative Writer Level 2: Essential Ingredients is designed as a one-year 36-week creative writing course. 18 weeks are devoted to short stories, and 18 to poetry, each week offering text to read, points to ponder, and assignments. Each track culminates in the student writing a short story and a poem respectively completely on their own and from scratch. Because each week's work is so focused and full-orbed, these "final projects" should pose no extreme difficulties.
It's apparent that Mr. Fishman reveres certain modern storymakers that many would consider less than exemplary (Steven Spielberg and George Lucas, in particular), even comparing them to the great and inestimable Brothers Grimm in a way that makes any lover of German scholarship and folklore cringe in his or her deerskin boots. However, his overall approach is sound, his assignments engaging, and his guidance for young creative writers much better than the bulk of comparable programs.
Review by C. Hollis Crossman
C. Hollis Crossman used to be a child. Now he's a husband and father who loves church, good food, and weird stuff. He might be a mythical creature, but he's definitely not a centaur. Read more of his reviews here
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