(Don't) Stop Me if You've Heard This Before
and Other Essays on Writing FictionPeter Turchi’s third book on the craft of fiction goes beyond the basics to explore the intricate mechanics of storytelling.
In (Don’t) Stop Me If You’ve Heard This Before, Peter Turchi combines personal narrative and close reading of a wide range of stories and novels to reveal how writers create the fiction that matters to us. Building on his much-loved Maps of the Imagination: The Writer as Cartographer, ...
In (Don’t) Stop Me If You’ve Heard This Before, Peter Turchi combines personal narrative and close reading of a wide range of stories and novels to reveal how writers create the fiction that matters to us. Building on his much-loved Maps of the Imagination: The Writer as Cartographer, Turchi leads readers and writers to an understanding of how the intricate mechanics of storytelling—including shifts in characters’ authority, the subtle manipulation of images, careful attention to point of view, the strategic release of information, and even digressing from the (apparent) story—can create powerful effects.
Using examples from Dickens, Chekhov, and Salinger, and Twain to more contemporary writers including Toni Morrison, Alice Munro, E. L. Doctorow, Jenny Erpenbeck, Adam Johnson, Mohsin Hamid, Jai Chakrabarti, Yoko Ogawa, Richard Powers, Deborah Eisenberg, Olga Tokarczuk, Rachel Cusk, and Colson Whitehead, Turchi offers illuminating insights into the inner workings of fiction as well as practical advice for writers looking to explore their craft from a fresh angle beyond the fundamentals of character and setting, plot, and scene.
While these essays draw from decades of teaching undergraduate and graduate students, they also speak to writers working on their own. In “Out of the Workshop, into the Laboratory,” Turchi discusses how anyone can make the most of discussions of stories or novels in progress, and in “Reading Like a Writer” he provides guidelines for learning from writing you admire. Perhaps best of all, these essays by a writer the Houston Chronicle has called “one of the country’s foremost thinkers on the art of writing” are as entertaining as they are edifying, always reminding us of the power and pleasure of storytelling.
“Peter Turchi illuminates the craft of fiction writing with stories and metaphors that inspire the spirit and light up the imagination. I love his books and have stolen a ton from them.” — Austin Kleon, New York Times bestselling author of Steal Like an Artist
"As I read through (Don’t) Stop Me If You’ve Heard This Before, I found myself questioning not only the novels I’ve written, but the stories I’ve told—to myself and to others—wondering where the truth ended and the fiction began. — Isle McElroy, author of The Atmospherians for Bomb Magazine
Praise for Maps of the Imagination
"Readers, after all, love to get lost in a good book. It is a wise writer who will not only deposit them there but lead them out again, whole and thoroughly satisfied.”— ForeWord
“It’s not uncommon to compare the writing of a story to the mapping of a world, but no one has so fully, or so seductively and rewardingly, performed as extended a meditation on this illuminating metaphor as Turchi. . . . Brilliant and pleasurable, Turchi’s musing on our innate need to know where we are, where we might go, and why alters our perceptions of not only maps and fiction but also the nature of the mind’s terra incognita.”— Booklist
“For Turchi, the map is more than metaphor: it is an organizing principle of narrative. Language is like a land, paragraphs are districts, sentences are streets, and words are only lines and curves constructed the way maps are made of lines and shapes. Letters are like wild canyons and chaotic seas that the writer maps into words and then into sentences and then into scenes.” — The New Yorker
“I wish I had written Maps of the Imagination.” — Rebecca Solnit
“A gorgeous book in every way… engaging, intelligent, and never jargon laden; this book wears its vast learning lightly.” — CHOICE
“Maps of the Imagination ranges widely across a many disciplines and art forms, from mathematics and formal geometry to Marx Brothers movies and the works of such writers as Borges and Calvino. Sometimes with off-the-cuff analogies, sometimes with pages of analysis, Turchi charts a lively course through a labyrinthine field of varying ways of looking at the world and, most important, the blank page.” — Publishers Weekly
“[Turchi’s] study of maps has inspired writers, artists, and designers for more than a decade, about what maps can teach us when it comes to the creative process.” — Fast Company
“A genre-defying gem that straddles art book, writer’s manual and cultural critique in an utterly captivating way that makes you look at both old maps and familiar fiction with new eyes.” — Brain Pickings
Praise for A Muse and A Maze
"Turchi invites us to think about books as mysteries unfolding in time, giving us clues that we piece together." — Washington Post
“One of the country’s foremost thinkers on the art of writing.…Turchi argues that writers are like magicians who aim to lead us to a state of wonder." — Houston Chronicle
“Altogether stimulating." — Brain Pickings
"Consistently engaging, lively, and thought provoking. The interactive element is also a delight, as there are actual puzzles scattered throughout (answers are provided in the back) to demonstrate the challenges and rewards offered by puzzles—and by good writing.…Readers and puzzle lovers should find much of value." — Publishers Weekly