Trinity University Press

A Kite in the Wind

Fiction Writers on Their Craft

Andrea Barrett (editor), Peter Turchi (editor)

Twenty contributors demonstrate the nuances of fiction, revealing why it’s so challenging to write and so enticing to read

A Kite in the Wind: Twenty Fiction Writers on Their Craft is an anthology of essays by twenty veteran writers and master teachers. While the contributors offer specific, practical advice on such fundamental aspects of craft as characterization, character names, the first person point of view, and unreliable narrators, they also give extended, thoughtful consideration to more sophisticated topics, including “imminence,” or the power of a sense of beginning; creating and maintaining tension; “lushness”; and the deliberate manipulation of information to create particular effects.

The essays in A Kite in the Wind begin as personal investigations—attempts to understand why a decision in a particular story or novel seemed unsuccessful; to define a quality or problem that seemed either unrecognized or unsatisfactorily defined; to understand what, despite years of experience as a fiction writer, resisted comprehension; and to pursue haunting, even unanswerable questions.

Unlike a how-to book, the anthology is less an instruction manual than it is an intimate visit with twenty very different writers as they explore topics that excite, intrigue, and even puzzle them. Each discussion uses specific examples and illustrations, including both canonical stories and novels and writing less frequently discussed, from the nineteenth, twentieth, and twenty-first centuries, by both American and international authors.

The contributors share their hard-earned insights for beginning and advanced writers with humility, wit, and compassion. The first section of the book focuses on narration, with particular attention paid to various kinds of narrators; the second, on strategic creation and presentation of character; the third, on some of the roles of the visual, beginning with establishing setting; and the fourth, on structural and organizational issues, from movement through time to the manipulation of information to create mystery and suspense.

The contributors have all been on the faculty of the low-residency MFA Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College, widely considered the finest creative writing graduate program of its type in the world. They have nearly all been fellows of the National Endowment for the Arts, and many have received fellowships from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation. The anthology includes directors of some of the country’s finest MFA creative writing programs, including those at the University of Iowa, Arizona State University, and the University of Alabama.


  • Wilton Barnhardt
  • Andrea Barrett
  • Charles Baxter
  • Karen Brennan
  • Maud Casey
  • Lan Samantha Chang
  • Robert Cohen
  • Stacey D’Erasmo
  • Judy Doenges
  • Anthony Doerr
  • C. J. Hribal
  • Michael Martone
  • Kevin McIlvoy
  • Alexander Parsons
  • Frederick Reiken
  • Steven Schwartz
  • Dominic Smith
  • Debra Spark
  • Megan Staffel
  • Sarah Stone
  • Peter Turchi 


  • Winner of the Foreword Magazine Best Book Award (finalist, writing)


“Some of our very best fiction writers tackle many of the thorniest and most fascinating aspects of storytelling. Thoughtful and serious and wise, this is much more than a how-to book.”

Richard Russo

“Rule number one is when you get a chance to study with a master, you take it. Rule number two is when you get a chance to study a master studying another master, you push Grandma out of the way to take it. This is a rule number two book. Get it, read it, shelve it—along with its companion volumes—next to Nabokov’s ‘Lectures on Literature’ and O’Connor’s ‘Mystery and Manners.’”

David Wroblewski

A Kite in the Wind cover
  • Price: $19.95 buy »
  • Pages: 360
  • Size: 6 x 9
  • Published: Feb 2010
  • Status: Available
  • ISBN: 9781595340726
  • Illustrations: 2
  • Price: $19.95
  • Published: Apr 2011
  • Status: Available
  • ISBN: 9781595341075
  • Illustrations: 2


Anthology, Writers / Writing, Essays