You Must Be This Tall to Ride



You Must Be This Tall to Ride

Contemporary Writers Take You Inside the Story
by B.J. Hollars
Writer’s Digest Books, 2009
ISBN: 978-1-58297-574-0
$17.99, paperback, 304 pages

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Read a Chapter!
View or download “The the Good People of Mars,” a short story from noted author Laura van den Berg. Plus, read her thoughts on how she wrote the piece, advice on using similar techniques in your own work, and exclusive exercises.

Online Exclusive: Q&A With BJ Hollars
Editor, writing instructor, and author B.J.Hollars shares his insights into the writing life in this exclusive Q&A.

About the Book

Compelling stories have the power to generate infinite wonder: It’s nearly impossible to imagine how authors begin their story, and, at the same time, you sense there’s much more beyond those final words. Here’s your chance to hear straight from the authors on exactly what goes into writing a compelling story.

In You Must Be This Tall to Ride, you’ll find 20 works of fiction and nonfiction by acclaimed contemporary authors, each
offering fresh perspective on the universal theme of “coming of age.” Then, after each work, the authors provide exclusive personal essays exploring the ins and outs of the writing techniques they employed, as well as practical exercises to help you utilize those tools in your own work.

Award-winning writers like Dan Chaon, Aimee Bender, and others grant you a guided tour of craft with unparalleled access to the process behind their creations, including how to:
• grow a story from the seed of an image or sentence
• allow experiments with language to lead you to plot
• turn even the most unlikely characters into heroes
• transform raw anecdotes from your own life into
compelling fiction and essay

Join these accomplished writers as they take you on a rollercoaster ride of stories. You’ll not only begin to understand what makes the wheels of a story turn, you’ll also gain the tools and strategies to transform lost characters and runaway plots into the greatest show on earth.  So go ahead, step right up. 

Your ride has just begun. 

About the Author
B.J. Hollars has been published in many journals and has earned the Davenport Fiction Prize and a nomination for the Pushcart Prize. He is a book reviewer for Bookslut.com and a staff member for the literary journal Black Warrior Review.


Table of Contents

Introduction • Conjuring All the Old Ghosts
  
Steve Almond • Tell Me Where It Hurts   
Inside “Tell Me Where It Hurts”: Writing What Matters 
Writing Exercise   

Aimee Bender • Tiger Mending   
Inside “Tiger Mending”: One Question Leads to Another   
Writing Exercise   

Kate Bernheimer • A Tulip’s Tale   
Inside “A Tulip’s Tale”: Lead With Your Obsessions   
Writing Exercise   

Ryan Boudinot • The Littlest Hitler   
Inside “The Littlest Hitler”: From Preparation to Evaluation   
Writing Exercise   

Judy Budnitz • Immersion   
Inside “Immersion”: Word Games   
Writing Exercise   

Dan Chaon • Prodigal   
Inside “Prodigal”: The Fictional Essay   
Writing Exercise   

Brock Clarke • The Apology   
Inside “The Apology”: Starting With an Image   
Writing Exercise   

Michael Czyzniejewski • Janice the Mantis   
Inside “Janice the Mantis”: Creating Conflict From Character   
Writing Exercise  

Stuart Dybek • Field Trips  
Inside “Field Trips”: ‘Like This Really Happened’  
Writing Exercise   

Michael Martone • The Spirit of St. Louis   
Inside “The Spirit of St. Louis”: Beginning With an End   
Writing Exercise   

Antonya Nelson • Here on Earth   
Inside “Here on Earth”: Dividing the Self  
Writing Exercise   

Peter Orner • Pampkin’s Lament   
Inside “Pampkin’s Lament”: The Loser Hero  
Writing Exercise   

Jack Pendarvis • Sex Devil   
Inside “Sex Devil”: Using the Dark  
Writing Exercise   

Benjamin Percy • Refresh, Refresh   
Inside “Refresh, Refresh”: Showing Creative Restraint  
Writing Exercise   

Andrew Porter • Departure   
Inside “Departure”: Mining a Setting for Emotion  
Writing Exercise   

Chad Simpson • Especially Roosevelt   

Inside “Especially Roosevelt”: Uncovering Meaning in an Anecdote   
Writing Exercise   

George Singleton • Voted Most Likely
   
Inside “Voted Most Likely”: Our Never-Dry Well   
Writing Exercise   

Brady Udall • Otis Is Resurrected   

Inside “Otis Is Resurrected”: The Core of Longing   
Writing Exercise   

Laura van den Berg • To the Good People of Mars
   
Inside “To the Good People of Mars”: Experimenting With Language   
Writing Exercise   

Ryan Van Meter • Youth Group  
 
Inside “Youth Group”: Surrendering to Memory   
Writing Exercise   

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