Free Within Ourselves: Fiction Lessons For Black Authors 1st Edition, Kindle Edition

4.8 out of 5 stars 29 ratings
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ISBN-13: 978-0385491754
ISBN-10: 0385491751
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Editorial Reviews


Praise for Jewell Parker Rhodes's Magic City:

"A compelling page-turner that will keep readers hoping against hope that everything will, magically, turn out for the best." --The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

"Jewell Parker Rhodes's characters hover. They dance and sing and cry and whisper secrets in your ear." --Emerge Review

Sure, Jewell Parker Rhodes is African American. Many of the writing traditions to which she refers in Free Within Ourselves--the slave narrative, trickster legends--are specific to African American culture. The resonant works of short fiction, reprinted here in their entirety, that she uses to illustrate fictional elements were written by such African Americans as Zora Neale Hurston, Charles Johnson, Toni Cade Bambara, and John Edgar Wideman. The 67 authors whose pearls of writing wisdom bring this book to its fine conclusion are all African American. Rhodes even bills her book as "fiction lessons for black authors." So why should the rest of us bother?

Because Rhodes has written a rich and vibrant guide to creating fiction, and she's engaged a whole community of celebrated writers to show us how it's done. Like the authors of many such books, Rhodes touches on all the expected aspects of fiction writing: character, plot, viewpoint, description, dialogue, theme, and revision. But as Rhodes takes a different approach, reading this book is like coming upon a familiar sight from a completely new angle. For instance, fiction writers tell stories. That's what they do. But black Americans, because slaves were not allowed to read or write, come from a strong and enduring oral storytelling tradition, a tradition that exists, in various forms, even today. Find a storyteller, recommends Rhodes, and write a page in his or her voice. "Listen for the 'gaps' in one of your family's stories," she says. "Listen for the silences, for what might be left unsaid, the secrets, then--imagine." Especially fine, too, is Rhodes's chapter on dialogue, which includes a section on subtext and a fascinating discussion about dialect, particularly apropos, as "African Americans often shift between standard and Black English."

Unlike the authors of many such books, Rhodes is well aware that most of us don't have eight hours a day to sit, uninterrupted, composing. There are jobs, dishes, children, and life to be lived. Still, she reminds us, "slowing down doesn't mean stopping." Do what you can. And remember: "This is your one and only life. Don't cheat yourself on your goals." --Jane Steinberg --This text refers to an alternate kindle_edition edition.

Product details

  • ASIN ‏ : ‎ B003IS76AS
  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Main Street Books; 1st edition (March 31, 2010)
  • Publication date ‏ : ‎ March 31, 2010
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • File size ‏ : ‎ 955 KB
  • Text-to-Speech ‏ : ‎ Enabled
  • Screen Reader ‏ : ‎ Supported
  • Enhanced typesetting ‏ : ‎ Enabled
  • X-Ray ‏ : ‎ Not Enabled
  • Word Wise ‏ : ‎ Enabled
  • Print length ‏ : ‎ 354 pages
  • Lending ‏ : ‎ Not Enabled
  • Customer Reviews:
    4.8 out of 5 stars 29 ratings

About the author

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Dr. Jewell Parker Rhodes is an award-winning and New York Times bestselling author and educator for both youth and adults. She is the author of seven books for children including the New York Times bestsellers Ghost Boys and Black Brother, Black Brother, both named Amazon’s Best Children’s Books of the Year. Her other books include Paradise on Fire, Towers Falling, and the Louisiana Girls Trilogy: Ninth Ward, Sugar, and Bayou Magic.

Jewell is the author of six adult novels: Voodoo Dreams, Magic City, Douglass’ Women, Season, Moon, and Hurricane, as well as the memoir Porch Stories: A Grandmother’s Guide to Happiness, and two writing guides, Free Within Ourselves: Fiction Lessons for Black Authors and The African American Guide to Writing and Publishing Non-Fiction.

Jewell has won the American Book Award, the Black Caucus of the American Library Award for Literary Excellence, and the Jane Addams Peace Association Book Award.

Jewell regularly visits schools, a speaker at colleges and conferences. The driving force behind all of her work is to inspire social justice, equity, and environmental stewardship.

Jewell is the Founding Artistic Director and Piper Endowed Chair at the Virginia G. Piper Center for Creative Writing at Arizona State University. She was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from Carnegie-Mellon University. Born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, she currently lives in Seattle.

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