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Fiction Writer's Workshop [Paperback]

by Josip Novakovich
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (47 customer reviews)

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Fiction Writer's Workshop Fiction Writer's Workshop 4.8 out of 5 stars (47)
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Book Description

February 15, 1998 1884910394 978-1884910395
Master the Elements of the Writing Workshop

The great paradox of the writing life is that to be a good writer, you must be both interested in the world around you and comfortable working in solitude for hours on end. Fiction Writer's Workshop is designed to help you foster a strong sense of independence–of being and thinking on your own, of becoming self-evaluative without being self-critical–in order to accomplish what others seek in classroom groups.

In this comprehensive guide, award-winning writer and teacher Josip Novakovich explores every aspect of the art of fiction and provides all the tools and techniques you'll need to develop day-to-day discipline as well as a personal writing style, such as:

  • More than 100 writing exercises, including dozens that are new to this edition, that challenge you to experiment with diverse writing styles
  • Specific statements of purpose for each exercise, to help guide you and instruct you at every step of the creative process
  • Self-critique questions to help you assess your work and identify strengths and weaknesses before moving on to the next lesson
  • The full text of eight acclaimed short stories, with analysis and exercises, to provide models for your own writing and help reinforce the lessons you've learned
The practical, insightful methods offered in this workshop will clarify your voice, broaden your perspective, and strengthen your fiction.

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Josip Novakovich is the author of a novel (April Fool's Day, HarperCollins), three story collections (Infidelities: Stories of War and Lust, Yolk and Salvation and Other Disasters), two collections of narrative essays (Plum Brandy: Croatian Journeys and Apricots from Chernobyl), and was anthologized in Best American Poetry, Pushcart Prize, and O. Henry Prize Stories. He has received the Whiting Writer's Award, Guggenheim Fellowship, and two National Endowment for the Arts Fellowships.

--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Story Press (February 15, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1884910394
  • ISBN-13: 978-1884910395
  • Product Dimensions: 8.8 x 5.9 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (47 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,448,622 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
86 of 88 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Help October 17, 2001
This is a great book to help the struggling writer, or the writer that just wants to hone his skill. Just like the title indicates, this book is a giant practicum in writing. Joseph Novakovich is able to put a creative writing class into a book with ease. Each chapter is a self-contained lesson that focuses on a topic, from settings to dialogue and everything in between.
Novakovich focuses on each topic with in-depth detail. He provides specific examples from his own work as well as others to get his ideas across. He has found a way to simplify the idea of writing such that it may be easily explained. I felt that Novakovich covered dialogue, setting and description better than any other help-book that I have read. In fact, my problem has always been with "show, don't tell". I was finally able to learn the difference thanks to Novakovich.
But, he doesn't stop with just the lecture part of the lesson. At the end of each chapter is a series of exercises to build your writing muscles. The exercises focus on the material in the chapter that he just covered so you actually learn the ideas by performing them. He also follows each exercise with an explanation of what you should be looking for in your "answer" allowing you to see if you did indeed grasp his teachings.
I have read many books trying to improve my story telling ability. The "Fiction Writers Workshop" is the best one that I've come across to date, and I believe that my writing has improved greatly from the lessons Novakovich provided.
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67 of 70 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars This book will get your writing... June 12, 2005
This book is chock full of good exercises that will get you writing instead of just reading. I think that's an important part of any instructional writing book because you're probably reading a book like this in order to write, or at least write better.

Novakovich starts with discussing where writers get ideas for fiction. I think this is a good chapter, because it's one of the most asked questions by novices. Reading through the chapter, I realized that any source is a good source. I was also surprised to find that many times writers get their ideas from real life. Then they twist the idea just a bit and "Eureka!", they've got the basis for a story. This was enlightening because I think a lot of beginning writers have the idea that the "real writers" make up the story in their head all the time.

Every chapter ends with a series of writing exercises, and Novakovich encourages you to complete them all. Each exercise will probably take you anywhere from ten minutes to a half hour to complete (depending on how much you put into it). Of course, you can skip the ones that sound boring and nobody's going to give you an "F", but I'd suggest you do all of them if you want to get the most out of this book. You may be very surprised with what you come up with and if one of these ideas starts you on the path to a story, you should look at that as a blessing.

Novakovich covers the major components of fiction thoroughly, but isn't so longwinded that you start to lose interest. Each chapter can be read in probably less than an hour. Still, there is a lot of good advice. His style is very clear and straightforward and a cinch to understand. Novakovich really demystifies the writing process and provides you with exercises that show you that you can do this, too.
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35 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A complete course! February 21, 2001
By Ve
Fiction Writer's Workshop is absolutely an amazing book. It gives examples that help tremendously in understanding all the aspects of fiction writing. There are some great sections in this book! Fiction Writer's Workshop really IS a workshop. It goes through and shows you (with examples and exercises) how to create a real setting for your story, and how to fix a "blah" setting. The book teaches you how to make a character feel alive to your readers, by giving them vivid qualities and emotions. Fiction Writer's Workshop helps you to create a distinctive plot, and even teaches you how to choose correct wording when you deal with dialogues. I'm very impressed with this work by Josip Novakovich. Even an experienced fiction writer would benefit from giving this book a thorough reading. It will get your creativity flowing, get you moving when you are at a block, and help you to improve your skills, or revise a manuscript.
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28 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent intermediary guide book September 20, 2007
Once you have read an introductory book like Brayfield's Bestseller or Kings 'On writing' this is the book to buy and use.

Novakovich covers there basic elements: Setting /Character/Plot/PoV/Dialogue & Scene/Begins and endings / description/ vice and revision. He uses numerous examples form published literature and each chapter concludes with a number of good exercises.

One topic Novakovich does not cover is writers block. Maybe that is because he provides the solutions. Writers block is either due to lack of ideas or anxiety about one's writing. Novakovich provides the solutions - a chapter on the sources of fiction and a reference book to dip into every time one feels a anxious.

The beauty of Fiction Writers Workshop is the exercise - do them - and that all aspects are covered in one short book. That is also its disadvantage. Successful writing is complex, it requires fluent and adaptive use of a number of skills. To become fluent you will need to read and practice each in greater depth than can be provided in one book that covers them all. Don't make the mistake I made of going in depth on one skill first. It can lead to imbalance. Start with Fiction Writers Workshop and you will gain a balance.

Readers of this review can review it - tick the box 'useful' or 'not useful'. There is something I have noticed in those reviews. If reviews are critical then people are less likely to tick the box - 'useful' and more likely to tick the box 'Not useful'. What they are in fact saying is 'It was a nice review'. For a writer that is the worst kind of review. It leads you up the garden path. An author needs is honest candid review.

I'm not being nice about Fiction Writer's Workshop. It is that good.

just Jack
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book for learning the basics
This book really helped me understand the basics of my prose writing. It makes me think not only about the pieces that I write but also about the issues of plot and character etc. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Wayne Weiss
5.0 out of 5 stars For writing basics, this is the only book you'll need
This writing guide was recommended to me, and it helped me so much with its clear explanations of writing techniques that I recommend it all the time to other writers who are... Read more
Published 3 months ago by C. J. Brown
5.0 out of 5 stars Thankyou
I learnt a lot from this book. All books on learning the art of creative writing should have exercises. It is a challenge. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Yarndi
5.0 out of 5 stars A classical guide
Josip Novakovich gave me this book himself while visiting the city where I live and where he once lived and taught. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Ann Bogle
3.0 out of 5 stars Good if you've never read one before
I bought this for a college class. Nothing new here. Once you've read one how to fiction writing book, you've pretty much read them all, nothing ever changes.
Published 4 months ago by JP
5.0 out of 5 stars Highly recommended
This book is clear and applicable. It provides sage advice, and excepts from stories written by great authors. Highly recommended.
Published 4 months ago by Mark Daniels
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book!
Written smartly, this thoughtful book has much to offer for the seasoned as well as beginning writer. You'll refer back to this book often, no matter how accomplished you become. Read more
Published 5 months ago by tom crooks
5.0 out of 5 stars Love his books
I love his books, and re read them over and over. Love doing the exercises, they get the old brain moving.
Published 5 months ago by Jacqueline J Hustad
5.0 out of 5 stars Write right
This is a very common-sense approach to fiction writing that I have found useful. Non-fiction writing is a big part of what I do for a living, and this book is a satisfying and... Read more
Published 6 months ago by Peter S. Larkin
5.0 out of 5 stars Bought copies for my writers group to use.
A great textbook. My writers group is using to guide us to better writing. The lessons at the end of each chapter help us to learn.
Published 7 months ago by Murph
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