From Tom Jenks, A Poetics of Fiction: a Master Class in Writing

The book, an on-demand video tutorial,
and a thousand practical tools

Tom Jenks is one of the most accomplished editors and teachers of our time. In a career spanning more than forty years, he has served as an editor of Esquire, Gentlemen’s Quarterly, and The Paris Review. As senior editor at Scribner’s, he edited Ernest Hemingway’s posthumous novel The Garden of Eden. As cofounder and editor of Narrative, he has celebrated classic works, honored the masters, and discovered new generations of talent. He has taught at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, the Creative Writing Programs at the University of California, Washington University, the Squaw Valley and Bennington Summer Writing Workshops, and, privately, in New York, Boston, Washington, DC, Chicago, Denver, Seattle, Portland, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. Among his students and those he’s edited are winners of every major literary prize, including the Nobel, the Pulitzer, and the National Book Awards.

For the serious student of writing, A Poetics of Fiction is an indispensable tool. In this volume, plus video class, you’ll learn how Tom approaches a work of fiction, what he looks for, and how to craft your own work. In six chapters Tom illuminates the use of diction, point of view, characterization, imagery, plot, and theme, and grounds the lessons in practical examples taken from great works. The chapter on “Plot,” for example, takes readers almost line by line through the short story “Walking Out” by David Quammen, pointing out all the scenes within scenes, even within sentences, and conveying the breathtaking architecture of this masterly story.

Your master class also includes an on-demand video in which Tom teaches a line-by-line reading of James Baldwin’s short story masterpiece “Sonny’s Blues,” providing unforgettable insights into what’s at work in the creation of a great story, and how to read like a writer.

In A Poetics of Fiction, you’ll learn what’s essential and why. You’ll work at your own pace —and be inspired to try new and practical techniques. Above all, you’ll look at storytelling through the eyes of a master teacher and editor, and this will inform your approach to writing forever.

A portion of every sale of the Poetics supports Narrative’s nonprofit mission of advancing reading and writing in the digital age, and Narrative in the Schools programs, which provide Narrative’s expansive, free library of literature, video tutorials, and other essential tools to students and teachers in underserved communities around the world.

410 pages, 6 x 9, in paperback.