Skip to main navigation Skip to main content

Three Graywolf Titles Longlisted for the National Book Awards: Abundance by Jakob Guanzon for Fiction, The Twilight Zone by Nona Fernández for Translated Literature, and The Wild Fox of Yemen by Threa Almontaser for Poetry

Book Title

Ron Carlson Writes a Story

Author 1
Ron Carlson
It would be strange to get in the car and think you were going to pick up the kids at school, but not be really sure. But there are moments in the process of writing a story when you must tolerate that uncomfortable feeling: You stay alert to everything that is happening and by listening and watching, you find out where you are going by going there. Somebody else may get in the car.

The author of eight books of fiction, Ron Carlson has been praised as "a master of the short story" (Booklist). In these essays, he gives rare insight into a veteran writer's process by inviting the reader to watch over his shoulder as he writes the short story, "The Governor's Ball."

"This is a story of a story" he begins, and proceeds to offer practical advice for creating a great story, from the first glimmer of an idea to the final process. Carlson urges the writer to refuse the outside distractions--a second cup of coffee, an un-vacuumed carpet, a troll through the dictionary--and attend to the necessity of uncertainty, the unexpected pleasures of an unfolding story.

"The Governor's Ball"—included in its entirety—serves as a fascinating illustration of the detailed anatomy of a short story. With charisma and wit, Carlson offers illuminating strategies that are sure to engage and inspire writers eager to expand their creative powers.

Share Title

List Price
Publication Date
Publication Date
Trim Size
Trim Size
5 1/4 x 8 1/2
"Do yourself a favor and read Ron Carlson."—Stephen King

About the Author

Ron  Carlson
Ron Carlson is the author of Ron Carlson Writes a Story and eight books of fiction, including the novel Five Skies. His stories have appeared in Esquire, Harper’s, the New Yorker, and GQ. He directs the graduate program in fiction at the University of California, Irvine.
More by author


  • “His clear focus on the problem at hand and his often simple but effective solutions are inspirational.”—R.K. Dickson, The Bloomsbury Review
  • “A wealth of notes, tips, tricks, and techniques for writers, as well as a window into Carlson’s personal creative process.”—The Midwest Book Review
  • "This little book is a gem."—Narrative
Back to Table of Contents