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Techniques of the Selling Writer [Paperback]

by Dwight V. Swain
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (120 customer reviews)

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Book Description

January 15, 1981 0806111917 978-0806111919

Techniques of the Selling Writer provides solid instruction for people who want to write and sell fiction, not just to talk and study about it. It gives the background, insights, and specific procedures needed by all beginning writers. Here one can learn how to group words into copy that moves, movement into scenes, and scenes into stories; how to develop characters, how to revise and polish, and finally, how to sell the product.

No one can teach talent, but the practical skills of the professional writer's craft can certainly be taught. The correct and imaginative use of these kills can shorten any beginner's apprenticeship by years.

This is the book for writers who want to turn rejection slips into cashable checks.

Frequently Bought Together

Techniques of the Selling Writer + Creating Characters: How to Build Story People + Self-Editing for Fiction Writers, Second Edition: How to Edit Yourself Into Print
Price for all three: $46.12

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Dwight V. Swain spent a lifetime writing newspaper and magazine articles, pulp fiction, and screenplays. For more than twenty years he taught in the Professional Writing Program at the University of Oklahoma. His popular books, Techniques of the Selling Writer and Creating Characters: How to Build Story People are published by the University of Oklahoma Press.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 342 pages
  • Publisher: University of Oklahoma Press (January 15, 1981)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0806111917
  • ISBN-13: 978-0806111919
  • Product Dimensions: 8.1 x 5.3 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (120 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #15,796 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
183 of 185 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This book got me published July 1, 2002
Although Swain's book was originally published in 1965, there's a very good reason why it's still in print. The information he presents is solid, useful and timeless.
The book has 10 chapters. The first, Fiction and You, tells what the writer needs to know and gives common traps writers fall into. Then he discusses things like rules and the creative act of writing. His style is terse and sentences are short. That makes it easy to find specific information when you go back later to look for it.
In the second chapter he gets down to serious business -- words. How to find them, how to use them and make them clear and concise. The third chapter is all about feelings and how to use them. In the fourth he goes into the necessity for conflict, what to do and not to do in building it. Chapter Five presents the strategies of fiction. "Fiction..." he writes, "creates an especially vivid vicarious tension...Your job as a writer is to control and manipulate this tension." He also delineates the source of story satisfaction and describes how to produce it.
Chapter 6 is all about getting a story started, lining up story elements, developing the middle of the story and winding it up. Story people and the importance of characters and character development are covered in Chapter 7. Planning the story, recognizing good story material, preparing to write, and what you need in order to succeed as a writer wind up the last few chapters. He devotes one page to marketing advice and that simply directs the reader to study the markets.
This is, without a doubt, one of the most useful and easiest to use books on the craft of writing that has ever been published. Its advice is timeless. This book should be in every writer's collection.
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56 of 57 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Skip the MFA classes and read this book, then write! January 11, 2001
By A Customer
I had published a fair amount of fiction BEFORE I read it. But reading Swain, having him help me take apart the structure of my scenes, the very order of the sentences in a paragraph, the order of words in a sentence, and to then change them for maximum power--wow! Since then I've published much more fiction, because I have an understanding of the techniques of writing. The selling parts of the book are things I've gotten elsewhere, but learning what makes good sentences, good scenes, balanced chapters--it's worth a fortune. This book and Gary Provost's MAKING YOUR WORDS WORK are the two best tools for writers I've found. And I'm saying this as my 1th book is about to come out, and my 500th shorter piece. Thanks, Dwight. Wish you were still around.
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34 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Best on Writing Dramatic Fiction August 11, 2008
Janny Wurts said this is the best book for learning craft, and then I found all these rave reviews, and everyone was right - this is one of the best books on writing fiction there is. I have over twenty, and even after all that, when reading yet another chapter on point of view is like slogging through sludge, Swain brings such refreshing verve and wit to the subject that everything seems new again. And it actually is, since he clues you in to key aspects you'd never considered before.

First, some clarifications - forget the title and the ugly cover. Rip them off, if you like. A better title would be "Techniques of the Dramatic Writer People Will Enjoy Reading." `Cause that's Swain's clarification - that this book isn't about writing for literary journals, and it's not about shallow novels or selling out. It's about solid storytelling and what engages audiences. What will, in the end, sell, simply because it's what publishers are looking for - novels with depth, feeling, and compelling characters that carries audiences along from one scene to the next.

Most books on writing stay at one level - the literary theories that just briefly touch on actual works you've heard of, and the cookie-cutter manuals that stay on the surface without giving you the tools or insight you're looking for. But here you find a combination of psychological depth and street wisdom that teaches you how to write with both emotional insight and compelling action.

To top it off, Swain not only gives you the basic story structure of a hero facing conflict, but also gives a few nuggets I haven't seen in other books, such as curtain lines, scene and sequel, pet fragments, simultaneity, framing tightly in close-ups, reaction sentences, and the hero's stated goal vs. their true goal.
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74 of 80 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best book on writing around November 10, 2001
This book was recommended to me before I sold my first book, and I'm certain what I learned in reading it contributed to that first sale and all the ones that followed (I've sold 45 novels in all). I highly recommend it, not only for novices, but for all writers.
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33 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wow!!!! Absolutely Mind Blowing!!!! July 23, 2007
By Daniel
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book is about YOU, about what excites YOU as a writer. Are you worried there wont be a single soul willing to read your books and the subjects you choose for them? Don't worry! IF YOU DARE TO WRITE ABOUT WHAT YOU LIKE, YOU WILL REACH THOUSANDS OF READERS WHO WILL BE MORE THAN HAPPY TO BUY YOUR BOOKS. There is a very simple reason for this, just search it in the book.

"Techniques of the selling writer" is a MUST for you the aspiring writer and it is also for the not-quite-there-yet professional writer. Really, as I read it I could not believe how this author managed to get so much valuable advice in so few pages (330 p.).

The title might stir two feelings in you: you are either interested because you want to become the next Stephen King and make money, or you are inmediately discouraged because you want to become a respected fiction artist and money isn't your business. Either way if you read this book you will be steps closer to your goal.

So, this book does not tell you what subjects you need to write about. It is about building a bridge between you and YOUR audience. It is about how to build a good story, and how to tell it in an exciting original manner.

Reader's emotions, writer's freedom, story success, climax, conflict, vividness, passion, pleasure, tension, satisfaction, confidence, the writer's life...

I just read this book and I'm very excited about it. If you read my other reviews you'll see that I have read many books on writing fiction, and the more I read the more difficult I am to please. I get more picky and I can quickly distinguish between absolute garbage and pure genius!
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Techniques of the selling writer. by Dwight V. Swain
Without doubt this is the epitome of a complete book on the craft of writing. It has everything. It offers an injection of enthusiasm about becoming an author in the true sense of... Read more
Published 6 days ago by late starter
5.0 out of 5 stars A must-have for every writer's shelf
If you ask a roomful of writers which books have helped them the most, many -- if not most -- will list Swain's book. It's practical and endlessly helpful.
Published 16 days ago by Reader/writer
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent
Absolutely a "must-read" for the serious writer. Would recommend a quick review of the material before starting each writing project until the techniques are second nature.
Published 19 days ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Best how-to book on writing
This book is written like a novel with a beginning, middle and end. The MRU concept opened my eyes and I have adapted it as my go to tool .
Published 27 days ago by Dale Parks
5.0 out of 5 stars Great help and encouragement for my own writing work
I was delighted with this book. The condition a little rocky, but it was described by the seller and there was NO real problem with a few marks -- the content was excellent advice,... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Anita Merrick
5.0 out of 5 stars No fluff, just good advice.
This book has a different feel from many other how-tos on writing. Some of the references are a bit dated, but the thoughts on scene structure are timeless. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Ktread20
5.0 out of 5 stars A classic
Swain is a must-have for any budding writer or advanced writer who can't seem to get that latest manuscript to work.
Published 1 month ago by Queen of Book Lusters
5.0 out of 5 stars excellent for the aspiring author
This book has a lot of great writing tips and tools, and contains no illusions about magic bullets or secret keys to success. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Jonathan Small
5.0 out of 5 stars The best book for the aspiring writer looking to sell books.
Comprehensive look at at how to write to be a successful, published writer. It's hard to believe it's out of print. Get your copy now while it's available.
Published 1 month ago by anna sands
5.0 out of 5 stars Used by Pros
Jim Butcher, author of the Dresden Files, has written about the importance of scene and sequel.

Over 25 years after reading Daughter of the Empire: An Epic Saga of the... Read more
Published 3 months ago by Raymund Eich
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Topic From this Discussion
Why has the price on Techniques of the Selling Writer more than doubled?
Probably because the copyright belongs to the University of Oklahoma Press, and books published by university presses are always ultra-expensive.
Sep 7, 2012 by Constance Holland |  See all 3 posts
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