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Techniques of the Selling Writer New edition Edition
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
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.Read more ›
This is a hefty read -- best digested in smaller portions, but well worth the effort. Swain takes separate looks on all aspects of story building -- characterization, plot, scene structure, etc., and pulls them apart to get to the basic elements. The approach is somewhat scholarly, but for those wrters who do study it, this book will definitely increase understanding of the interlocking components of great fiction.
Readers should remember that this book was first published decades ago. The markets -- especially book and short story markets - have changed quite a bit since then. Thus, the reader should take care to separate the craft advice - which is timeless -- from the advice related to selling, which may not be so timeless. Also, Swain does not give many examples, but the few that are given are, at times, somewhat obscure.
With only that caveat in mind, this book is one I'd expect to see on a serious writer's bookshelf.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I'm blown away with how much this book has improved my writing in such short time. Of course I've had a primer called the Fantasy Fiction Formula that's along the same vein. Read morePublished 4 days ago by Jason Parker
I knew that my writing was "clunky" at spots, and I could put my finger on it. This book clearly showed me what the problem was. Read morePublished 5 days ago by Counselot
Every page has valuable information on story writing I have ever seen, I took notes on everything😄Published 12 days ago by Amazon Customer
Possibly one of the single most important books to read if you want to be a writer. Filled with timeless craft advice. Read morePublished 18 days ago by Jason Martin
This is my goto craft bible for writing fiction. Every page is densely packed with insights and ideas, so much so that I have to read it slowly and repeatedly. Read morePublished 23 days ago by George Donnelly
Many of my fellow writing professionals have called this book, "The best I've ever read about writing fiction, successfully." With them, I tend to agree.Published 2 months ago by Amazon Customer
This is by my estimation the most invaluable, inspirational and motivation book on writing out there. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Evan
Reality can be impersonal, harsh, even nasty. But if we conquer a part or aspect of reality, it turns into our friend and ally. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Stefan Emunds