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Writing Fiction for Dummies

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4.11 of 5 stars 4.11  ·  rating details  ·  804 ratings  ·  90 reviews
A complete guide to writing and selling your novel.

So you want to write a novel? Great! That's a worthy goal, no matter what your reason. But don't settle for just writing a novel. Aim high. Write a novel that you intend to sell to a publisher.

Writing Fiction for Dummies is a complete guide designed to coach you every step along the path from beginning writer to royalty-
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Paperback, 362 pages
Published December 1st 2009 by Wiley Publishing, Inc. (first published October 27th 2009)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,583)
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Bucket
Let me begin this review by saying that I'm usually *not* a fan of the Dummies series. I hate the fonts and layout, they're odd-sized and ugly, and the information harbored within is almost always sub-par. Let me also point out that I am *not* a Dummy or a beginner, but an experienced writer who has read upwards of 20 books about the craft of writing.

So I was surprised that I really, really liked this book.

If you're looking for advice about craft, the finer points of good prose, or syntax, look
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Morgan Ives
Remember all those articles you've read on writing? Some were useful, some were not. If you're like me, you've collected those useful articles for years. Yet I always wished they could be collected in a single place.

"Writing Fiction for Dummies" does that! It is by far the best, most comprehensive book I've read on the subject of writing fiction (and I've read dozens). Highlights that I found especially useful:

- How to create (or fix) characters so they resonate with readers.
- How to balance the
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Wes Harris
Loved this book. I don't always read Dummies books cover to cover because they are how-to guides but this one was great. I've recently read several writing books and I regularly listen to a writing podcast. This book explained many of the key concepts that I have run into in other books in a clear and concise manner and added some additional tools/approaches. They didn't settle for hand-waving they got down into the nitty gritty and really helped me understand how-to-write in a way that I hadn't ...more
Robert Bidinotto
I downloaded Writing Fiction for Dummies with some trepidation, figuring that any book with a title like that had to be hack-work. And that it also had to contain tips and advice redundant with every one of the dozens of other books I've read on fiction-writing. I thought that, by now, I'd read about everything to be said on the topic.

Boy, was I wrong.

This is THE best book on fiction-writing. Bar none. Period. End of story. It is THE most systematic, comprehensive, creatively fertile, and techni
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Jack
I wanted to like this book, but I didn't. It is highly-rated both here and on Amazon, and I am familiar with Ingermanson's website "Advanced Fiction Writing." I figured I would give it a shot.

I think part of the problem is that this book sticks to the Dummies format of step-by-step instructions, helpful hints, and a beginning-to-end process. The problem is that there isn't a strict process in writing, which to be fair to Ingermanson, he does point out (before giving a step-by-step process). What
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Jill Williamson
Review by Jill Williamson

Randy Ingermanson is my hero. I have been learning from him since I discovered his website in 2005. The man is not only a wealth of information, he teaches in such a fun and friendly way, you can’t fail to learn. And now, everything Randy teaches is here in one convenient package. Man, how I wish he had written this a few years ago! It would have saved me a lot of trouble.

I highly recommend this book to any writer, but especially to beginners who want to write a novel.
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Sara Farinha
Cinco estrelas. Um autêntico e útil manual de escrita ficcional que nos ensina, passo a passo, a desmistificar alguns dos paradigmas da boa ficção. Um livro a ter à mão quando pensamos em escrever, quando analisamos a nossa produção literária, ou quando nos predispomos a rever de forma séria o que escrevemos.

Parte de uma colecção que se predispõe a ajudar o leitor a compreender de forma fácil, mas aprofundada, diversos temas, este exemplar não foge a esse princípio. Com a tónica no ‘for dummies’
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Mary
I wish I would've had Writing Fiction for Dummies when I wrote my first novel several years ago. Such a wealth of information! I appreciate the authors taking a multi-faceted approach, giving room for different types of plotters. I also applaud the attention to scene structure and self editing. If you're starting this journey, or you're partway through and you don't quite know how to continue, or you're farther along but want some excellent tips, this is an informational and inspirational read. ...more
T.H. Hernandez
This is a good entry level book for wannabe writers. It’s certainly not the ultimate guide or the only source you’ll ever reference, but if you don’t know anything about writing fiction, it’s a really good book to start with. Randy Ingermanson and Peter Economy break writing fiction down into its fundamental components so that it’s easy to understand. They then build up from there to show how all of those components work together to help you write fiction in a way that works. There are sections ...more
Abdullah Aljumah
I've not read the whole book cover to cover. I actually skipped the parts I already know. It is a good reference for starters. It certainly gives you some useful insights about developing characters, scenes...etc. I'm going to keep it as a reference and refer to it whenever needed. While it mostly concentrates on novel writing, it is definitely recommended for any one interested in fiction writing.
منا تابش

وخ ندارم حقیقتاً. ولی باید اینا رو بگم؛ ذهنمو باز کرد. و دقیقاً چیزایی رو گف که دنبالش بودم. ازینرو، ازونکتابایی هس که هر از گاهی باید یهگریزی بهش بزنم و آدم نمیتونه جلوی خودشو بگیره که زیر جملههاش خط نکشه. هر چقدم ازینکار خوشش نیاد و بهنظرش بیاحترامی باشه.( آره میدونم خیلی الکی حسّاسم. :| ) خیلی مفصّل امّا نه خستهکننده، آروم آروم خواننده رو دنبال خودش میکشید و قدم بهقدم، بهش آگاهی میداد. خودمم نمیفهمم چرا بهش پنج نمیدم. :)) شاید بهاینخاطر که خیلی همه چیـو با هم کنار هم گذاشته بود و بهموازات هم
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Margaret Metz
Fun to read with lots of helpful insights. I liked the way they used known books as examples. They did a very good job of using examples all the way through. Some writing books just tell and don't show. ;o) This is one I can see myself referring to again in the future.
H. A. Mims
Books about writing are an addiction of mine, though I never bothered to read this one until it was offered on Kindle Unlimited. I assumed it would be overly simplistic, dumbed down to the point that only writing novices would gain any insight from its contents. Happy to say I was wrong about that! This book offers unique perspectives on everything from writing summaries to plot structure and character development, including quite a few suggestions that i've never found anywhere else. Though the ...more
Vidya
I've been reading several books on writing lately, and this is one of the best I've read. It gives a clear overview of the novel writer's process from conception of the idea to getting it published. It gives suggestions and instructions for each part, while keeping in kind that different writers use different processes to get from start to finish. Some of the books I've read recently have authors that prefer one process to another, and they make that clear to the point of patronizing and insulti ...more
Steve
I wasn't going to read this, just going to flick through it, but you know what, it is really interesting.

Talks about the way to structure a novel and the writing process, how to develop characters, plot, conflict, in order to produce something that is marketable. Yes I know, the idea of 'writing to sell' is a horrible, sold-out, etc, etc, but you need to know the rules before you break them eh? :) That said I found the process described to be very helpful and instructive. It may take some of th
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Nazire
When this book first caught my eye I thought it was more specific to writing fiction, not a novel, which aren't necessarily the same things. However, it is a great beginner's guide. I am glad I bought it and to this day it remains on my bookshelf along with other books on writing. There's too much emphasis on being able to publish the manuscript you're writing, which I found distasteful, but it is the way the writing world works, so very understandable. There's another dummies book for writing a ...more
David Roberts
The book I wrote to research this post was Writing Fiction For Dummies by Peter Economy et al which is a very good book which I bought from kindle. This book is about how to write a novel and get a publishing contract. It covers all the different genres and tells you what general rules there are for each. One sub genre is literary fiction were the book can be any genre but in addition is beautifully written and quite complex. Children's fiction doesn't generally allow swearing. Of course a very ...more
Alex G
I read Writing Fiction for Dummies first and then How to Write a Damn Good Novel. I thought that How to Write a Damn Good Novel was simpler and therefore better; however, on a second browse, Writing Fiction for Dummies seems to have more depth--although I did use some of its ideas, perhaps it was too much for me to learn at that time. I will keep it in my reference library along with Poetics, Strunk and White, and How to Write a Damn Good Novel.
Michael Griswold
Writing Fiction for Dummies succeeds where other books on writing fiction fall short. Many books on fiction writing turn fiction writing into such a Herculean exercise that it can actually discourage the young writer from even picking up a pen or opening a new word processor document. Ingermanson and Economy are always encouraging and uplifting in their advice, though not understating the difficulty of the task of writing a great novel, providing various examples along the way to illustrate what ...more
Jared Millet
It's taken me a while to nibble through this book, but it's an invaluable resource for any writer. Most writing books I set aside when I'm done, but never refer back to. This one I plan to keep handy on my shelf and dip back in on a regular basis.

The authors, Ingermanson and Economy, are proponents of the idea that good fiction is designed, whether before the initial draft or after, and they set out the steps to go about it in a systematic way, from the large-scale themes of a novel to the const
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Dan Duffy
Loved Randy's approach to teaching the Writing of Fiction. He introduced me to important elements of my story such as: Theme, Storyline, Three-Act Structure, Character Story Goals, Plot Analysis, and Character Sketches. I especially love his approach to defining scenes as either Proactive (goal, conflict, setback) or Reactive (reaction, dilemma, decision). An extra bonus is that by buying his book, you get a 50% discount on his Snowflake Pro software which I plan to soon download.
Jeffrey
This book is truly excellent and worth the time of anyone who wants to understand why structure, POV, plot layers and so much more are so important to the craft of storytelling. Seat-of-your-pants writers, edit-as-you-go and top-down or bottom-up plotters and planners can all benefit from the principles illuminated in these pages. Rules are made to be broken though, aren't they? Of course! Randy Ingermanson seems perfectly alright with that but if your goal is to elicit from the reader a powerfu ...more
Chris
It used to be that finding good books on writing fiction was about as hard as finding a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow. Nowadays, successful writers have stepped forward to provide concise, easy-to-understand information on the subject. Randy Ingermanson is at the head of that movement.

"Writing Fiction for Dummies" is now my go-to guide for all things writing. It has a proud slot on the top shelf of my bookcase where I keep all my favorite books, but it's almost never up there, because I ca
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Ryan Winstead
It's one of those "everyone can write a novel if they just pick up a pen!" books. Of course, these are wonderful for motivation, or feeling good about yourself, but just because you start writing a novel, following carefully the guidelines of this book, doesn't mean it will become a best seller. And that's all it was: guidelines on how to get writing and finish your book. I preferred Steven King's On writing considerably more; it offered insightful advice on the dos and don'ts of writing that ...more
Christie Speich
Writing Fiction for Dummies was far better than I thought it would be. It included information that I haven't read in other books about writing and really starts at the beginning of the process: thinking about your target audience, genre, etc. Techniques are broken down step-by-step which I found very helpful. It's not the end-all book on writing, of course, but for a single book to take on such a wide topic, it does a good job. The authors recommend several books for further information, as wel ...more
Julie L
I do not appreciate being in the “Dummies” target market, but Writing Fiction for Dummies has been a great help to me, so if the shoe fits...

As a visitor to Randy Ingermanson’s site, I was familiar with some of its material, but his book takes learning how to write compelling fiction to a whole new level.

No book will help you do the work and, make no mistake, writing a novel is a lot of work. But if you want a comprehensive guide to: 1) help you select an approach to writing, 2) create a compell
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JC
I learned a ton from this book about what it takes to write a novel and how much work really goes into it. After learning so much I think I'll take it a little easier on some of my reviews because honestly it takes a ton of work to publish a book. This was the first book I've ever read about writing a fiction novel and there are tons of invaluable things here. I'm considering getting into writing myself but before I do I definitely will pick this book up in a hard copy as it would be hard to fol ...more
Ryan Scyence
This book would be really helpful to someone who has not studied the craft of writing in detail. I read this manual at a point where I had a firm grasp of the basics, either by education or experience. However, I did not find the review to be tedious, it managed to cast a new light on how to think of the background elements of novel writing. One of the most valuable pieces I took away from this was the focus on writing as a business. The book assumes that the reader wishes to publish their works ...more
MightyMaeve
Reading not from the perspective of getting a book published (wasted chapters for me) but from that of understanding the mechanics of how a book creates a powerful emotional experience, I learned a lot. The writing style was clear, the layout easy to follow.

These three ideas were especially interesting: the three act structure of intensifying emotions and reader commitment; scene movement (goal->conflict->serious setback->reaction->dilemma->decision->goal); and the way to slow
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Allan Walsh
Writing fiction for dummies is a guide for writers the covers of on pretty much everything you need to know about writing.

The Bad Stuff: There is a fair bit of repetition in this book.

The Good Stuff: This book has a heap of useful information for writers that are beginning their journey. Even intermediate writers will get a lot from this book.

On the whole this is a very informative read, it covers off on pretty much everything. If you are just starting out as a writer and looking for a book wit
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  • Techniques of the Selling Writer
  • Outlining Your Novel: Map Your Way to Success
  • Writing Young Adult Fiction for Dummies
  • Story Engineering: Character Development, Story Concept, Scene Construction
  • The Fire in Fiction: Passion, Purpose and Techniques to Make Your Novel Great
  • The Complete Handbook Of Novel Writing: Everything You Need To Know About Creating & Selling Your Work (Writers Digest)
  • Hooked: Write Fiction That Grabs Readers at Page One & Never Lets Them Go
  • How to Be a Writer: Building Your Creative Skills Through Practice and Play
  • Characters, Emotion & Viewpoint: Techniques and Exercises for Crafting Dynamic Characters and Effective Viewpoints
  • Getting Into Character: Seven Secrets a Novelist Can Learn from Actors
  • Story Structure Architect: A Writer's Guide to Building Dramatic Situations and Compelling Characters
  • Revision & Self-Editing: Techniques for Transforming Your First Draft Into a Finished Novel
  • The Plot Whisperer: Secrets of Story Structure Any Writer Can Master
  • 250 Things You Should Know About Writing
  • Manuscript Makeover: Revision Techniques No Fiction Writer Can Afford to Ignore
  • Write That Book Already!: The Tough Love You Need to Get Published Now
  • Dialogue: Techniques and exercises for crafting effective dialogue
  • The Plot Thickens: 8 Ways to Bring Fiction to Life
133465
I'm a novelist, physicist, and fiction teacher. People around the world call me "the Snowflake Guy" because of my wildly popular "Snowflake method" for writing a novel.

I've published 6 novels and won about a dozen awards for my writing. I'm a theoretical physicist with a Ph.D. from UC Berkeley. I publish the world's largest electronic newsletter on how to write fiction. I run the software divisio
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