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"The Making of a Story" Vs. "Method and Madness"

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The Making of a Story

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The Making of a Story
A Norton Guide to Creative Writing

By Alice LaPlante
W. W. Norton & Company, 2007
Paperback ISBN: 978-0-3933-3708-2
Hardcover ISBN: 978-0-3930-6164-2

Method and Madness

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Method and Madness
The Making of a Story
A Guide to Writing Fiction

By Alice LaPlante
W. W. Norton & Company, 2008
Paperback ISBN: 978-0-3939-2817-4



"The Making of a Story" Versus "Method and Madness"
An Article/Review by Rochelle Caviness - February 6, 2017

I was recently asked, "Do you know if Alice LaPlante's two writing books, Method and Madness: The Making of a Story - A Guide to Writing Fiction and The Making of a Story: A Norton Guide to Creative Writing, are the same book?" I thought this was a rather odd question so I decided to look into it and share my answer with you. My short answer to this question is both yes and no, let me explain...

On the surface they would appear to be different books, after all they have slightly different titles and there is a large difference in price. This, more than anything, makes it appear that they are different books.

However, comparing the table of contents of each book reveals a startling similarity in content. There are nevertheless some exceptions: I found a recording of an interview that LaPlante did on Writers on Writing. This is a radio show about writing and writers that airs on KUCI 88.9 FM. The show is hosted by Barbara DeMarco-Barrett. (By the way, this excellent show is still on the radio, and you can download current and past episodes via the show's website at http://writersonwriting.blogspot.com/.) So my answer is yes, because both books are nearly the same, and no, because while they are similar they are not identical. In most cases these small differences might not matter, but if you need the book for a class, it might be necessary to get the version specified by the teacher. Basically, if you want to get one of these books for your own use, or are trying to decide which book to use for a writer's group, it does not appear to matter which book you get. However, if you need this book for a class you are taking, you might want to take a look at the table of contents of each book and see if you can find copies of the readings that are missing from the volume you need, versus the book you want to get, or ask your teacher if it really matters which book you use. So which book should you get? It depends. If you do not need this book for a class, I'd say to get whichever is cheapest. Whichever book you decide to get, you are in for a treat. LaPlante, in both books, provides an in-depth and articulate overview of the craft of fiction writing. The readings are a mix of short stories, which help you to see the principles she is teaching in action, as well as readings on craft. Each chapter also includes a series of exercises that will help you to internalize the material, and most important, which will get you writing. In short, both books serve as a one volume masterclass on creative writing in general, and fiction writing in particular.

A short note about Alice LaPlante:
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