Cory's Reviews > How Fiction Works

How Fiction Works by James    Wood
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's review
Feb 16, 2008

it was amazing
Recommended for: writers
Read in February, 2008

So far...amazing. Like an MFA in a book.

Now that I'm done, I want to start over and read it again. I want to read, or read again, every book he talks about throughout this book. Most importantly, I want to write.

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Comments (showing 1-5 of 5) (5 new)

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Edan Writing! Yea!

Edan P.S.
I still owe you an email reply, I know. Soon.

message 3: by Jessica (new) - added it

Jessica I'm not familiar with this one. Well, Cory recommends it highly...Others that I think are good: books on fiction writing by Josip Novakovich ("Writing Fiction Step by Step" & "Fiction Writer's Workshop"). I also like Peter Selgin's new book, "By Cunning & Craft: sound advice & practical wisdom for fiction writers." Hmmm...think I'll start a new bookshelf: how-to fiction books.

message 4: by Cory (last edited Feb 26, 2008 09:18PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Cory Edan: I agree - Writing! Yea! (though Hillary Clinton keeps telling me that words alone don't mean anything. The audacity.)

Robert: All I can say is that I think it's going to help me. But it will first help me by making me a better reader. As for the writing help, I showed a passage in the book to someone who went to a prominent MFA program (rhymes with Shmiowa Shmiters' Shmerkshmop - though this person's name does NOT rhyme with Shmedan), and she thought the insights were pretty unimpressive. I found the book illuminating and inspiring, though.

Jessica: This book isn't officially out yet. I got a galley as a perk from my bookstore connections. I think it comes out in August.

I wouldn't necessarily place it with other how-to books, like Writing Down the Bones, for instance. This is more of a "how-did" fiction book, as in, how others have done (did?) what they did. It teaches how to read things like style, POV, character, etc., from specific, often long-quoted examples, and see how those things add up in an overall work.

I think of it a bit like a magician's manual - Wood looks behind the sleights of hand and misdirections of practicing writers and shows how they accomplish their tricks. It could either disillusion you, so to speak, as a writer, or make you say "I want to do those tricks, too, but with my own material!" I'm in the latter camp...just have to find the right cards and bunnies to practice with (end metaphor and post).

message 5: by Jessica (new) - added it

Jessica sounds very good! and my new shelf should be called something different, I'll figure out what, since the books I mention aren't really "how to" either (as in Bones), but more the manner you describe.

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