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In his new book, "Story Craft: Reflections On Faith, Culture, and Writing By the Author of Hank the Cowdog", John R. Erickson addresses the question: "What is a.
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This was after an hour of holding enthralled--absolutely riveted attention--his audience of approximately junior high kids, many of whom could not sit still in class if their lives depended on it. What he learned was that Hank was the favorite character of many, boys and girls alike plus some of the teachers, and, who knows, maybe the principal. Erickson graciously praised our students, both to their face and later to their teachers and administrators for their enthusiasm and engaged attention.

We all just loved him. I found this book and bought it that very day and picked at reading random quotes and sharing writing advice with my students. I finished it this past week now that I am retired and have time. Not only does he offer seasoned and practical advice on the craft of writing, he inspires writers to strive to create stories that nourish and help readers.


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He writes from a Christian worldview which includes characters Before the Fall more interesting who do find redemption story resolution. I do so agree with his statement that many "Christian" works are too simplistic, presenting characters who "smile a lot" and are bland and uninteresting because conflict is not included. He contrasts these with many popular culture works which are all conflict, much of which is needless. He points out that none of the great writers Shakespeare, Dickens, the Apostle Paul, to name a few needed expletives to reinforce the violence of their topics.

Loved this book, and good luck to the Ericksons in their future!

A Call to Pens: thoughts on story craft and hank the cowdog

Feb 20, Erika Schanzenbach rated it liked it. This book was fine, but nothing grand or groundbreaking. Some of the issues discussed, such as the portrayal of evil and sin in literature, were not dealt with deeply enough to satisfy the many questions that surround that issue. The typesetting of this volume is not good a pet peeve of This book was fine, but nothing grand or groundbreaking. The typesetting of this volume is not good a pet peeve of mine as a book designer. The worldview basics he discusses are useful however, and, the time he takes to discuss writing as vocation and hard work vs.

Jul 17, Nathan Ellzey rated it really liked it Shelves: After several conversations with Erickson about worldviews and the like, he suggested that I might enjoy this little book. He hasn't recommended many books to me, so I thought it a good idea to take him up on it. I'm not much of an aspiring writer, certainly not of fiction. And I lack the discipline that he describes as essential to those called to this vocation.

Yet I found this book insightful and profound in many ways. In addition to reading some personal stories by and about a lifelong frien After several conversations with Erickson about worldviews and the like, he suggested that I might enjoy this little book. In addition to reading some personal stories by and about a lifelong friend, I find his insights into and criticisms of the postmodern worldview that has dominated western culture for decades insightful and refreshing. Great book, easy read, worth the time.

Thanks for the recommendation, John. Nov 24, Katie rated it it was amazing Shelves: Story Craft contains excellent insight into what it means to write from a Christian worldview. Aug 18, Jeremy marked it as to-read Shelves: Read chapters here and here. Aug 02, Melinda rated it really liked it Shelves: Reading this book dove-tailed interestingly into several others that I have recently read, Kathleen Norris' books "Acedia and Me", "Dakota: A Spiritual Geography", "Amazing Grace", etc.

What these books have in common is an emphasis for storytelling as a craft and as a worthwhile vocation. The prevailing idea regarding poets or writers or most artists is that they must suffer for their art before producing it, and then be misunderstood by the non-artis Reading this book dove-tailed interestingly into several others that I have recently read, Kathleen Norris' books "Acedia and Me", "Dakota: The prevailing idea regarding poets or writers or most artists is that they must suffer for their art before producing it, and then be misunderstood by the non-artistic.

This book provides a healthy and focused look at writing as a legitimate and healthy vocation. That this vocation of writing is hard, is work and not play, and must be practiced to improve is something the author emphasizes over and over. But he does not wait to "feel" he should write, he writes as a discipline. His work day for writing begins at 5am. As he said in a lecture I was able to attend, the rest of the day he can work "from the neck down", but he needs to give the best of his "neck up" work to his writing first thing in the morning.

Kathleen Norris in her books also discusses writing poetry regularly and in a disciplined way, not just when you "feel" like it. This book is wonderful to read, and brought up many ideas that I am still thinking over and digesting. His chapter on "Stories as Nourishment" is fascinating. Is the art you producing poisoning someone? Or is it nourishing someone? You can sue a plumber who does poor work, but what can you do with a writer who produces toxic waste in the form of a book?

I would recommend this book to anyone who needs to understand that all work can be practiced as a disciplined art and should provide in some way for the betterment of others. Nourish in your writing, do not poison. This is counter to the academic emphasis on "write what you feel, no matter what happens to those who read it". But it is a very worthwhile view to take, and I found myself more respectful of those "nourishing" authors that I come across Nov 02, Mary rated it it was amazing.

At this moment in time, I can't review this book. I'm still ruminating over the author's thoughts and what they meant to me. I want my words to do his justice. My brain is still processing. I will have to "cultivate my subconscious mind" in hopes it clarifies everything I absorbed. Or perhaps I will read the book - No, I will read this book again. And next time, I'll make notes. I have to say one last thing One particular subject that stood out to me was his view on mothe At this moment in time, I can't review this book.

One particular subject that stood out to me was his view on motherhood. Of course, a book with reflections on culture ought to talk of motherhood but how often do they not? Motherhood in our culture is stuffed between work and other obligations. But Motherhood is actually a vocation. And what truer vocation could there be? And as I write this, I realize it is my vocation to my two children. Thank you John R.

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Erickson for the story of your mother. She was your guide in early years. I desire to leave the impression your mother made on you for my own children. And I think I wrote this post without adverbs. I really enjoyed reading about how John Erickson started the Hank series and about his life. He also has a section towards the end of the book where he gave tips on writing that I found very helpful. The only downside to the book, is that John seemed like he did not encourage young writers, that children should not write because they don't have enough "life experience" to write completely.

I might have taken him completely wrong, but that is what I gathered from one of the chapters. Being a youn I really enjoyed reading about how John Erickson started the Hank series and about his life. Being a young writer myself, it kind of hurt my feelings to read one of my favorite authors words discouraging my writing.

But, this has not stopped me from writing: There are plenty of other better books that give great encouragement to young writers that you would be better off reading. However, if you have always wanted to know the history of Hank the Cowdog or anything else about Mr. Erickson, this was a great book!

Dec 30, Mark added it. I've read quite a few books on writing and enjoyed almost all of them.

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How could the author of books about a crazy dog be so astute? I do not know. But Erickson's book is.


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Some writing books are filled with technical things--how to's and the like. What I found entertaining and encouraging about this book was the story of how Mr Erickson got where he is today--which is more of a story about writing than a how-to. Something else I came away with, though, was an sense of ope I've read quite a few books on writing and enjoyed almost all of them.

Hank the Cowdog

Something else I came away with, though, was an sense of openness towards a wide variety of avenues to writing. Mr Erickson, though highly educated, has found a niche writing first person books about a crazy ranch dog.

Story Craft: Reflections on Faith, Culture, and Writing from the Author of Hank the Cowdog

I mean, c'mon, have you ever read one of those books? That dog is nuts. But Erickson pulls it off. In fact, he does so brilliantly. He writes those stories from Hank's perspective, but, somehow, makes it quite plain to the reader that Hank is nuts. Using Hank's own words. Jun 25, Lynn rated it it was amazing. In , he received a B. He began to publish short stories while working full-time as a cowboy, farmhand, and ranch manager.

In , he started his own publishing company called Maverick Books, which published the first Hank the Cowdog book in His stories have also won Oppenheimer, Wrangler, and Lamplighter Awards. Erickson says that one of the biggest challenges he faced as a young author was figuring out, "What is a story, and what is it supposed to do? We could say that he found his answers when he wrote In his book, Story Craft, John R.