Skip to main content

Alone With All That Could Happen

Rethinking Conventional Wisdom About the Craft of Fiction Writing


Buy book | Amazon  | BN.com

Image placeholder title

Alone With All That Could Happen
by David Jauss
Writer's Digest Books, 2008
ISBN 978-1-58297-538-2
$19.99 hardcover, p.256

Read an Excerpt!
David Jauss talks about truth in fiction in the chapter "You're Not Alone."

About the Book
The pieces of a satisfying novel or story seem to fit together so effortlessly, so seamlessly, that it’s easy to find yourself wondering, “How on earth did the author do this?” The answer is simple: He sat alone at his desk, considered an array of options, and made smart, careful choices.

In Alone With All That Could Happen, award-winning author and respected creative writing professor David Jauss offers practical information and advice that will help you make smart creative and technical decisions about such topics as:

  • Writing prose whose syntax and rhythm create a “soundtrack” for the story it tells
  • Choosing the right point of view to create the appropriate degree of “distance” between your characters and the reader
  • Harnessing the power of contradiction in the creative process

In one thought-provoking essay after another, Jauss sorts through unique fiction-writing conundrums, including how to create those exquisite intersections between truth and fabrication that make all great works of fiction so much more resonant than fiction that follows the “write what you know” approach that’s so often preached.

Praise for the Book
David Jauss is … a master, and this book grants its readers—you who desire to know what it means to write—an invaluable course of study, all at the hands of this extraordinary teacher, writer, and human.
—Bret Lott, author of Jewel, A Song I Knew by Heart, Ancient Highway, and other books

About the Author

David Jauss is the author of two short story collections, Black Maps and Crimes of Passion, and two collections of poems, Improvising Rivers and You Are Not Here. He has also edited two anthologies, Strong Measures: Contemporary American Poetry in Traditional Forms (co-edited by Philip Dacey) and The Best of Crazyhorse: Thirty Years of Poetry and Fiction. A third anthology, Words Overflown by Stars: Creative Writing Instruction and Insight From the Vermont College of Fine Arts M.F.A. Program, is forthcoming from Writer’s Digest Books. His fiction and poetry have appeared in numerous magazines and been reprinted in such anthologies as Best American Short Stories; Prize Stories: The O. Henry Awards; The Pushcart Prize: Best of the Small Presses; The Pushcart Book of Stories: Best Stories from the First 25 Years of the Pushcart Prize; Strongly Spent: 50 Years of Shenandoah Poetry; The Poetry Anthology, 1912–2002, and elsewhere. Several of his essays on the craft of writing have appeared in The Writer’s Chronicle. He served as fiction editor of Crazyhorse for ten years and is currently on the Editorial Board of Hunger Mountain, the Vermont College of Fine Arts’ national literary journal. The recipient of the AWP Award for Short Fiction, the Fleur-de-Lis Poetry Prize, a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, and a James A. Michener Fellowship, among other awards, he teaches at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock and chairs the M.F.A. in Writing Program at Vermont College of Fine Arts.

Table of Contents
Foreword by Bret Lott
Introduction
I. Autobiographobia: Writing and the Secret Life
II. From Long Shots to X-Rays: Distance and Point of View in Fiction
III. What We Talk About When We Talk About Flow
IV. Remembrance of Things Present: Present Tense in Contemporary Fiction
V. Some Epiphanies About Epiphanies
VI. Stacking Stones: Building a Unified Short Story Collection
VII. Lever of Transcendence: Contradiction and the Physics of Creativity
Notes on the Essays
Index

Poetry Prompt

Wednesday Poetry Prompts: 596

Every Wednesday, Robert Lee Brewer shares a prompt and an example poem to get things started on the Poetic Asides blog. This week, write a punishment poem.

Jacquelyn Mitchard: On Forgiveness in Fiction

Jacquelyn Mitchard: On Forgiveness in Fiction

Award-winning novelist Jacquelyn Mitchard discusses the chance meeting that led to her new novel, The Good Son.

Sea Bound

Sea Bound

Every writer needs a little inspiration once in a while. For today's prompt, write about someone connected to the sea.

writersMarket_wd-ad_1000x300 (1)

Get Published With the Latest Market Books Editions

Get published and find more success with your writing by using the latest editions of the Market Books, including Writer's Market, Poet's Market, Guide to Literary Agents, and more!

Michigan Quarterly Review: Market Spotlight

Michigan Quarterly Review: Market Spotlight

For this week's market spotlight, we look at Michigan Quarterly Review, the flagship literary journal of the University of Michigan.

Desperate vs. Disparate (Grammar Rules)

Desperate vs. Disparate (Grammar Rules)

This post looks at the differences between desperate and disparate with Grammar Rules from the Writer's Digest editors, including a few examples of correct usages.

What Is Pastiche in Literature, and Why Is Sherlock Holmes Perfect for It?

What Is Pastiche in Literature, and Why Is Sherlock Holmes Perfect for It?

What has made Sherlock Holmes so adaptable and changeable throughout the character’s original inception? Author Timothy Miller explains.

How to Write Through Grief and Find Creativity

How to Write Through Grief and Find Creativity

When author Diana Giovinazzo found herself caught in the storm of grief, doing what she loved felt insurmountable. Here, she shares how she worked through her grief to find her creativity again.

writer's digest wd presents

WD Presents: Our Brand-New Digital Guide, 6 WDU Courses, and More!

This week, we’re excited to announce our new “Get Published in 2022” digital guide, six new WDU courses, and more!