- Paperback: 344 pages
- Publisher: University of Oklahoma Press; New edition edition (January 15, 1981)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0806111917
- ISBN-13: 978-0806111919
- Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.7 x 8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars See all reviews (223 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #71,370 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Techniques of the Selling Writer New edition Edition
Use the Amazon App to scan ISBNs and compare prices.
The Amazon Book Review
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
Frequently bought together
Customers who bought this item also bought
About the Author
If you are a seller for this product, would you like to suggest updates through seller support?
Top customer reviews
Ultimately every writer finds their own way to write. You can plug away mercilessly at that, or do something a bit more productive, and have someone to set you upon on e of the paths. Professor Swain does this rather nicely, and with the delicate touch needed for new writers.
The book does show its age in some of the language, especially with regard to politically correct approaches to race and gender. However, I don't think it does so to its detriment. At least it does it no more than a reading of Shakespeare.
If you are looking to get started and have no idea, this book is for you. If you've been trying to get words to the page, but spend most your time staring at blankness, this book is for you. If you want to, as Mr. King says in a similar genre of book, "fill your toolbox" which is currently empty, this book is for you. Come to think of it, this book is really for everyone. The world could stand a few more good, maybe even great, writers. Good luck.
Each time I thought about reading it, I put it back on the shelf. Oh foolish girl!!
Techniques... is a practical writing guide as well as a guide to producing writing that sells.
What I liked:
I’m tempted to say, “I liked everything,” which would be true, but here’s what sets this book apart from other books:
1) It’s organized in a logical progression from the smallest writing unit to the broad strokes of storytelling.
2) It’s detailed and specific.
3) There’s lots of examples.
4) The writing is clear and easy to understand.
5) Swain’s breaks down the techniques genre fiction writers use to tell compelling
6) I’ve tried his techniques and have seen a marked improvement in my writing.
I don’t want you to think this is a perfect book, or a quick and easy read. There are some potential issues. I didn’t mind these things, but I imagine they could be stumbling blocks for some.
1) The book is dense; he packs more into 300 pages than most writing books. I get frustrated with books that are thin on content.
2) It’s dated, which anyone would expect from a book published 45 years ago; be prepared for talk about typewriters and other outdated things. If you think this might annoy you, remember that this book is still in print for a reason.
3) This is the kind of book you’ll read slowly and study–this is a plus for me, but I know some people want a quick an easy fix.
4) Some say that the writing is dry, but I didn’t notice. My academic background might make me jaded. The content is so valuable that I didn’t notice dry writing.
If you are an aspiring writer or a writer who want to improve, I recommend this book.
For me, it’s a must have.
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. There's also sections on a writer's life and being productive - including fifty pages on Planning, Preparation, and Production - that are sharp and true to life.
"The best observation anyone can make on preparation, planning, and production is that everyone has a God-given right to go to hell in his own way - and don't let anyone kid you out of yours."
Sitting down with this book is like sitting down at an all-night diner with a straight-talking veteran like Gene Hackman and having him lay out the terrain for you. Telling you tales about fellow writers and spinning out stories about the waitress and explaining between goals of achievement and goals of resistance and how her boss's reaction could be the key.
Swain's enthusiasm is uplifting, his candor refreshing, his insight exactly what you need. He even breaks up each chapter into sections, so there's barely a single page with a solid wall of prose. For instance, the sections on increasing tension include 1) Build with scenes, 2) Don't confuse delay with complication, 3) Tie your characters to your story, 4) Balance your forces, 5) Have enough at stake, 6) Force continuing adjustments, 7) Keep the action rising, 8) Box in your hero, and 9) Drop a corpse through the roof.
Each of these is given a half page or more of explanation: "Your job is to spot holes and plug them; to foresee escape routes and block them; to cut off your hero from all apparent hope. If you don't, your reader's going to see those holes, and scream because your hero doesn't duck out through one."
It clocks in at 320 pages, jumps right in on the very first page, and though written in 1965, is dated only by the magazines it names, mentions of typewriters, and a funny line about computer tubes. You still find the usual Steinbeck, Faulkner, Tennessee Williams, and Travis McGee. Everything else is advice as timeless as Shakespeare or Stephen King would give.
My regret is that I wasn't given this book in college, rather than the stale, technical wish-wash that made writing fiction seem like typing up doctorates to please your professors. Those books one had to sit down and slog through, but this one I always looked forward to, knowing that even the things I already knew would be told with bold, brash wit and made new again. Which is, actually, what good writing is all about.
I've never read a writing-help book that covered so much I haven't seen elsewhere. Wish someone would produce an audible so I could just listen over and over as I go about my day. I WILL read it over and over.
If you read only two books on writing this is one of the two. The other is his Creating Characters: How To Create Story People. Thank you Mr Swain - wish you had written more.