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The Writing Book: A Workbook for Fiction Writers

3.79  ·  Rating Details  ·  143 Ratings  ·  17 Reviews
This is a practical workbook that guides writers, step-by-step, toward completing a work of fiction. Free of generalizing platitudes, it instead focuses on the specifics of craft: from getting started, discovering characters, writing dialogue and description, to evaluating the design of a draft, and of course revision. Exercises found in this book are actual techniques wor ...more
Paperback, 208 pages
Published August 1st 1999 by Allen & Unwin (first published 1993)
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Buffy Greentree
Jun 05, 2014 Buffy Greentree rated it liked it
The one thing that I really liked about this book was the use of Australian authors as examples. It demonstrated beautifully the breadth and variety of Australian writing.
As to the book itself, it took me a while to work out exactly what it was that bugged me. All the advice is useful, if a bit banal. It wasn't until I started reading 'Story' by Robert McKee, I realised my problem with Grenville's book. McKee states that there are two aspects to a piece of writing: the literary talent and story
May 25, 2012 Aislinn rated it really liked it
I don't know what I expected from this book but I didn't expect to find it so useful and so strong on technique. It was a great book to read after absorbing all the principles of "Self-Editing for Fiction Writers" (Dave King etc) because Grenville has an artist's approach to fiction: she knows the rules more thoroughly than anyone and she's willing to break them. I'm still learning the rules and I really got a deeper understanding of several aspects of the craft from the examples she used. I hav ...more
Kate Atkinson
Jul 07, 2012 Kate Atkinson rated it it was amazing
I read this book to supplement one of my Creative Writing university subjects this semester. I found it very helpful, especially as I was writing my end-of-year short story. It was good in a practical way, dispensing with the theory and other fluff, cutting straight to helpful advice. I would recommend this book to all writers, especially those who feel they have a lot to learn :P Grenville includes exercises which are awesome for combating writer's block, and lots of 'examples' which she writes ...more
Sep 07, 2014 Leinad rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2014, reviewed
"This isn't yet another 'how to write' book," writes Kate Grenville in the introduction to *The Writing Book*. "In fact it isn't a 'how to write' book at all. This is a practical workbook, a resource book for a writer to work through, with an emphasis on exercises and examples." As such, I found *The Writing Book* to be wonderfully useful and refreshing.

In this book, Grenville walks through various key aspects of fiction writing. The ten chapters are self-descriptively titled "Getting started",
Titus Hjelm
Feb 15, 2016 Titus Hjelm rated it liked it
I'm not a fiction writer, but often fiction writing guides offer insights also to creative nonfiction and even academic writers. Grenville's book is no exception: narrative non-fiction writers can learn much about character-building and mood-setting, for example. And revision guidance, of course. But there were no significant 'aha!' moments in this one--especially if you've read any other writing guides previously.
Jan 01, 2012 Clare rated it it was amazing
Shelves: writing-tips
This short review is also posted on my blog at

This is a really excellent work book for people who want to write or who are currently writing fiction. It is an incredibly useful book for people like myself who are running workshops on creative writing.

Each chapter is divided into 3 sections. The first section explains the category - eg character, voice, point of view, dialogue, the second section offers examples and the third offers large numbers of practi
Kate Krake
Jan 04, 2012 Kate Krake rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-on-writing
One of the most practical and down to earth guides to fiction writing I have ever read.
Creative exercises are a dime a dozen, but the value in this book is Grenville actually explaining how a swag of random writing exercises can be turned into a story.

All of the examples Grenville uses are taken from Australian literature, so I was also happy I was also able to pick up a few local reads for the To Read shelf too.

Most inspiring to pick up the pen (or laptop - both!) and get back to writing fictio
Tara Calaby
This is quite a basic book, really. It was on the recommended book list for my Masters, but I'd personally only recommend it to people without much experience of writing. It's full of activities, but I'm not sure I'd do any of them myself, as they would feel very artificial because they're not in keeping with my own writing process.

On the upside, Grenville has taken her examples from Australian authors, which is a nice change! And I do think The Writing Book could be helpful for those new to fi
Jun 11, 2011 Djrmel rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, writing
The writing advice isn't anything that not available in a lot of other books, but Grenville does go a step further by including examples of what she's talking about. Good examples, too, not only of what she's teaching but for reading in general. That could be counterproductive, in that you'll want to read the entire book she's pulled the example from, and that's just another excuse to not be writing, isn't it?
Jun 20, 2008 Tawny rated it liked it
Shelves: literacy
Favorite quotes:
1. "The more you read, the better you'll write."
2. "Yours is an individual voice because you're an individual, not quite like any other. Whatever good things come out of your writing will happen because of that individuality."
3. "Punctuation will always be only an approximation of the sound of speech, in the same way that musical notation is only a guide to how a piece of music should sound."
Jul 07, 2012 Audrey rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

Excellent book on writing with really good explanation and exercises to work through. Well worth buying if you have serious interest in writing.
Apr 24, 2012 Tara rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I'm always interested in reading books on writing by authors I already love. This is a good one, perhaps more aimed at beginners but thoughtfully done.
Jul 30, 2015 Lisa rated it really liked it
Shelves: lwc-reading-list
One of the best beginner writing books I've read. Highly recommended for anyone who wants to brush up on the fundamentals of good fiction.
Jul 05, 2014 Jane rated it liked it
Skimmed through the last two thirds as I became bored. I much prefer John Marsden's and Stephen King's books.
Feb 18, 2010 Lewlewlew rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
excellent for the stuck wannabe writer who needs structured exercises to get moving
Randal White
Jan 29, 2015 Randal White rated it really liked it
A practical and useful guide.
Jul 07, 2015 Alisha rated it really liked it
Shelves: research
Very informative.
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Kate Grenville is one of Australia's best-known authors. She's published eight books of fiction and four books about the writing process. Her best-known works are the international best-seller The Secret River, The Idea of Perfection, The Lieutenant and Lilian's Story (details about all Kate Grenville's books are elsewhere on this site). Her novels have won many awards both in Australia and the UK ...more
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