The Elements of Writing Series

During my thirty years of teaching Creative and Expository Writing at three universities, I discovered a few things about how it's done. These books were written while I was still teaching, frequently as hand-outs to explain things to my students. Some years after I had retired, I got the chance to publish all five of these books at once; so I took it.

You can scroll through the whole series if you want, or jump to a book by clicking on its title:

1. Elements of Creativity: On Creativity in General and Creative Writing in Particular,
2. Elements of Dialog, Dialect, and Conversational Style,
3. Elements of the Novel: an Update on Forster,
4. A Writer's Toolkit: Elements of Writing Personal Essays, Poems, Stories,
5. Elements of Form and Style in Expository Essays
6. Elements of the Short Story


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 On Elements of Creativity:

"Simply the best book on the subject." -pre-pub review

ELEMENTS OF CREATIVITY:

On Creativity in General and

Creative Writing in Particular

(No. 1 in "The Elements of Writing" Series)

by Charles Brashear

Emeritus Professor of English (Creative Writing)

San Diego State University





"Brashear has done something amazing in pulling together so many strands in the web of creativity." (pre-pub review)

Elements of Creativity integrates most of what we know about the several creative processes into one handbook. Using research in Psychology, Sociology, Philosophy, Pedagogy, the nature of language, the creative process, and my own experience as a writer and teacher of writing for 30 years, I've illustrated how the human mind works while it is inventing, revising, re-envisioning, and arranging creative ideas.

It can be very valuable to an artist, inventor, philosopher, or bridge builder to have some notion of where his/her thought stands at any moment, where it is going, and sometimes -- alas -- where it is stuck. If we know the pattern of creative behavior, we're more likely to be able to stimulate it in ourselves, maintain it, get it going again when it bogs down, nurture it, help it through difficult stages.

Chapters 1-6, "Creativity in General," offer a comprehensive understanding of a complex process; chapters 7-16, "Creativity in Writing," offer practical aspects of creating, especially in writing, but also in business and science; chapters 17-19, "Creativity with Others," offer integration and connection with larger social and philosophical issues. I haven't tried to say everything about creativity, but I have tried to touch all the types of things there are to say.
 
 

Published in 2001. 216 pp.

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On Elements of Dialog, Dialect, and Conversational Style:

"I believe this book will become at least moderately significant among publications for writers. I would, indeed, want it in my personal library."--U.N. Tejano

ELEMENTS OF DIALOG, DIALECT, and CONVERSATIONAL STYLE

(No. 2 in "The Elements of Writing" Series)

by Charles Brashear

emeritus Professor of English (Creative Writing)

San Diego State University





Elements of Dialog, Dialect, and Conversational Style presents the language of talk, its structure, style, grammar, methods of making meaning, aesthetic organization, and much more. Different chapters derive from descriptive linguistics, non-verbal and para-language studies, games theory and transactional analysis, social dialectology, linguistic geography, style studies, even rhetoric. Here are the building blocks of good familiar style. Here are the materials that every creative wordsmith has to use when shaping thought. Here are the nuts and bolts, the range of possibilities, the elements with which the languages of reports, speeches, informal essays, fiction, poetry, plays, business correspondence, personal letters are held together.
 
 
 

"Many current books on writing devote a chapter or a few paragraphs to writing dialog, but there is a lack of books zeroing in on the subject. Here, at last, is a good one. The author's approach is a new one, and he shows great familiarity with linguistics. He covers the subject well, including non-verbal language, explaining how it supplements words as part of dialog. His down-to-earth analyses and examples of dialects and accent can be quite useful. I have never seen the subject covered so thoroughly. His argument contrasting academic, journalistic, and conversational style were coherent and logical." --U.N. Tejano
 
 

Published in 2001. 164 pp.

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On Elements of the Novel: "A BREATH OF CLEANSING SEA-BREEZE" --Bill Baeddekker

ELEMENTS OF THE NOVEL:

An Update on Forster

(No. 3 in "The Elements of Writing" Series)

by Charles Brashear

emeritus Professor of English (Creative Writing)

San Diego State University







Elements of the Novel is about the fundamental aspects of the modern novel-- story and plot; character and characterization; theme, fantasy, and prophecy; point-of-view and belief; rhythm and pattern; aesthetic structure. It follows and expands the scheme used by E. M. Forster in his classic Aspects of the Novel, adding perspectives and insights that have emerged in the last seventy-odd years. It is intended as a handbook and stimulus for people actively involved in writing novels, but would also enrich anyone's novel-reading experience.
 

"Whether you think the novel is a vehicle for character study, or a vehicle for story and plot, or for some more 'poetic' elements, like aesthetic design and structure, this book is for you. The depth of discussion at every phase is notable and rare in this sort of book. Brashear knows what he's talking about--and does it with clarity and economy." --Joel Black
 

"Brashear is a modernist, who finds much in Post-Modernism simply nonsense. For those of us who have resisted the waves of absurdities over the last fifty years, he's a breath of cleansing sea-breeze." --Bill Baeddekker
 
 

Published in 2001. 208 pp.

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On A Writer's Toolkit:

"Good Book! You'll Want it on your shelf." --Jane Wall

A WRITER'S TOOLKIT:

Elements of Writing Personal Essays, Poems, Stories

(No. 4 in "The Elements of Writing" Series)

by Charles Brashear

emeritus Professor of English (Creative Writing)

San Diego State University







A Writer's Toolkit grew out of my teaching and writing experiences over thirty years. It presents the fundamental principles of creative writing and illustrates them with both student and professional writing. Its basic strategy is to offer samples of essays, poems, and stories by way of definition, then ask emerging writers to develop their voices in suggested writing assignments. The book assumes a writer should develop as many voices and tools as he/she has things to say.

I have tried to keep the focus on practicalities, though occasionally a brief bit on theory follows a section on a form or style (where it can be ignored by those who don't need it, or used by those who find it interesting).

The book takes a modular approach to fostering writing skills in students. It views basic techniques of writing like intellectual bricks. One has to have the first one in place (let's say control of image) before one can lay the second (let's say the manipulation of image into metaphor). One has to understand scene and character before one can make these ingredients into a plot. However, like a spider, writers have to be constantly attached to the far-flung foundations of their art. Writers are doomed to be always working simultaneously on the strands and anchors of the webs they weave.
 

"Every beginning writer should know what's in this book. And every experienced writer should be reminded of it once in a while. Good book! You'll want it on your shelf." --Jane Wall
 
 

Published in 2001. 299 pp.

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On Form and Style in Expository Essays:
"Highly recommended!" --Howard Koppolo


ELEMENTS OF FORM AND STYLE

IN EXPOSITORY ESSAYS

(No. 5 in "The Elements of Writing" Series)

by Charles Brashear

emeritus Professor of English
San Diego State University







Elements of Form and Style in Expository Essays is about the techniques of organization and the ingredients of style in the formal, or expository, essay. It deals in detail with the three forms of human understanding and organizing ideas-- chronological sequences, classification and components parts, and comparison/contrast, as they relate to strategies in short and longer essays. It shows how we make sentences in English, how we make them effective and sensible, and how they mature as we become more skilled at writing. It offers a compendium of organizational techniques and stylistic considerations that we all grapple with as we learn to write well. It is both process-oriented and information-rich.

Strategies and styles of good writing are illustrated with both student and professional samples. The student paragraphs and essays will show an emerging writer how others in his/her situation have dealt with learning to write. The professional writing samples show the sophistication we all ultimately aim toward. The book is both small enough to be usable and full enough to be useful.

"This author makes essay writing seem simple, rather than the arduous task I remember it being. Where was he when I needed him? And his examples, especially those on Washo and Koko, the Ameslan 'talking' chimpanzee and ape, are a treat in themselves. Highly recommended!" --Howard Koppolo
 
 
Published in 2001. 176 pp.

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Elements of the Short Story

No. 6 in "The Elements of Writing" Series



by Charles Brashear

emeritus professor of English



Elements of the Short Story is a Modernist's approach to the short story.

One of the primary aspects of Modernism was the belief in cause and effect. The modernist believes that behavior is caused and that we can discover and present the motivations behind behavior, in rich, sensory detail. A modernist short story is built on two cause-and-effect sequences: from the opening conflict or problem to the climax, and from the climax to the close and clincher. The Modernist, like his/her predecessors for 2,500 years, believes that these cause-and-effect sequences can be meaningful and that a story can present a theme that has philosophical and/or psychological meaning.

The book sets out to delineate the building blocks, the elements of the short story. The components of experience are always character, scene, and incident, whether you're in fantasy-land, distant stars, or dancing with Gypsies in JÚrez, Spain, as the cover shows. The book details many fundamental aspects of character and characterization; plot and plotting, including scenario; basic style; pacing; the writer's authority; point-of-view; credibility. It analyzes and illustrates typical strategies in building the rising action, building the climax; building the close and its clincher.

A short story is not a stunted novel, nor is a novel an overgrown short story. Elements of the Short Story takes the position that the short story is an art form in its own right, with the potential for considerable aesthetic achievement.



Published in 2005,  184 pages

Ask your bookstore to order ISBN 0-933362-21-8 ($12.50) through Lightning Source,
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