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Fiction Writer's Workshop

3.96  ·  Rating details ·  879 ratings  ·  67 reviews
Josip Novakovich teaches fiction with the authority of a successful writer, the flair of a favorite professor and the excitement of a life-long student.This interactive workshop helps students write fiction, not just read about it. Explore each aspect of the art of fiction through:
-- sources of fiction
-- setting character and plot
-- point of view and voice
-- scene and dia
Hardcover, 250 pages
Published February 15th 1995 by Story Press Books (first published 1995)
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Average rating 3.96  · 
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 ·  879 ratings  ·  67 reviews

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Adrian Alvarez
Okay okay so I always complain about books on writing yet I am constantly reading books on writing either for classes or as craft markers for my own practice. This one was actually pretty good. First of all, its written by an accomplished author (that's crucial for me at this point). Secondly, it presents itself as a textbook. One of the aspects of the "how to write..." genre that I can't stand is the veiled arrogance behind most of those books. The posture tends to be, "well you are actually a ...more
Mar 30, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you're looking for a writing book where an author riffs on writing for a while looks elsewhere. It reads more casual than a textbook would, but Fiction Writer's Workshop demands a lot of work out of the reader. If you're not willing to go through it performing most of the exercises you're not going to get the most out of it

Granted I've yet to redo the whole book doing all the exercises, but as far as I've gotten I've consistently found stories that I didn't know I had in me. The author takes
Feb 13, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: writing
Oh my God! From ideas in the first couple of chapters, I wrote three, count 'em THREE short stories! Similar output throughout the rest of the book. Love it! ...more
Carrie Mitchell
Jan 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I was introduced to this book last year, through participation of an Open University online course, so got myself a copy. It's written in plain English, without the sanctimonious habit many instructive authors have of loading everything with mysterious jargon and/or elusive, frilly words not used since Dickens was a lad. This means that it's a book which extends a welcome to new writers, rather than making them feel out of their depth. As a seasoned author himself, Novakovich is able to justify ...more
Andrew Knighton
There's a familiarity that comes from reading a lot of writing books, and certainly Novakovich's book spends time on things you'll have read elsewhere. But it's good to be reminded of these lessons, and they come with some excellent practice exercises. His breakdown of subjects like forms of humour also gave me some interesting new food for thought. ...more
John David
Dec 22, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: worth-your-time
A very good resource for new and seasoned writers. I am moving into the fiction genre, and this book is very helpful, especially the exercises. Even if you don't actually do them, just thinking about the subject helps you learn. There are many awesome examples of the situations that are described. ...more
Elizabeth Howe
It's super basic. Some of the examples are taken out of context and the suggested changes are absurd. The exercises are really the only reason to get this book. ...more
Aug 26, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition

I found Fiction Writer’s Workshop to be very informative. There was a lot of information in this book that I had previously learned, but had almost forgotten. While reading the book when I learned about a new technique or was re-familiarized with an old, I would suddenly feel inspired to write just to test the techniques out. Novakovich does an excellent job of breaking down by chapter the fundamental principles of writing. For most of his advice he provides clear examples, which help to better
Erin *Proud Book Hoarder*
A great source for fiction writers, although it falls short in some areas. Each section begins with a lecture of some sort, with examples and thoughts, then numerous assignments.

It's divided into Sources of Fiction, Setting, Character, Plot, Point of View, Dialogue and Scenes, Beginnings and Endings, Description and Word Choice, Voice, then Revision.

The chapter on gathering story ideas is pretty generic but useful in a broad way. He lists some general things to trigger your thinking, like childh
Oct 15, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2012
This book covers basic elements of fiction: setting, plot, character, beginnings & endings, dialogue & narritive, voice. POV, and revising. Each chapter provides multiple examples using works of fiction, and exercises and checklists for further writing development.

I've read a lot of these kinds of books and I like this one because it goes more in-depth on technique. The examples were a little dated; except for a couple, I'd never read the books that were quoted from. But I liked the author's fre
Amanda Patterson
Dec 05, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great for writers!

Karine Green
Jan 24, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed it, and did get some great ideas from it. It was a bit dry in places. I think someone in a review mentioned that it reads like a textbook. I would have to agree.
Candace Haskell
Dec 19, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019-books-read
Fiction Writer's Workshop was an extremely useful text I used for a Writer's Digest course. The author does an excellent job of describing the various elements of good fiction and how to practice them. The best part is the assignments he gives at the end of each chapter, challenging the would-be-writer to actually write, to self-edit and to improve. Also included are eight literary short stories used as examples, which are then again followed by challenging writing assignments. This book can eas ...more
Jun 30, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: borrowed, craft
My reading this was primarily an exercise in defamiliarization and to see examples for description, setting-building, etc. in other novels and to build up my ever-growing pile of books to read. This text is great too because it comes with writing exercises. Unfortunately at most, the advice given towards Pacing is minimal, and since I am still Pacing's bitch, guess I'll still have to struggle in working through it. ...more
Molly Montgomery
I am planning on using this for teaching an intro to fiction course. It definitely has a lot of useful tips and exercises even for experienced writers. My favorite part of this book is the short anthology of short stories at the end with explanations highlighting different aspects of the stories that work well.
Mark Mathes
Sep 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a useful book and handy reference for beginning and advanced fiction writers. The author organizes well, starting with Setting, Character, Plot, POV, Dialogue, Scene, Beginnings and Endings and Description. Exercises and examples are helpful.
Dominique Dixon
Jan 17, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It was an easy read and the way humor is used made the reading fun. The exercises at the end of each chapter help to retain the information provided in the previous chapter. It's a book I will continue to reference on my fiction writing path.

I would recommend it to anybody.
Published in 1995 this is now quite out of date, but a lot of it is still useful.
Jordan Bowers
It's a good book. It provides some good tips and teaches you who to write fiction. However it does get dull after reading it for a while. Definitely need to take breaks when reading this. ...more
Jun 17, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a great book: technically, it drags the reader's attention towards many aspects of the trade which might easily be neglected by a novice writer. Reading this book doesn't necessarily mean that I will abide by its useful principles before I encounter them as mistakes in my own writing, but it's always a relief to know that others have encountered the same problems I might be having; and it's good to know I have somewhere to read such detailed and carefully structured advice.

Moving on, rea
Mar 13, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a great book about learning the craft of writing fiction. All of the aspects are covered from POV, character, and plot to revision, dialogue and setting.

I thought there were too many exercises and the exercises were too long. I filled up a Five Star one subject notebook for doing 66% of the exercises. There wasn't enough subject matter in the chapters to justify 15-20 pages worth of workshop exercises. I think he wanted to write a textbook but also wanted sales from the writer like mysel
Nov 07, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
so extremely helpful.
it talks about fiction and your sources, inspiration, and content of your body of work as an author. The chapters covered topics like research, muses, and writer’s block. The book goes on to discuss in-depth subjects such as setting, scene, dialogue, plot, character, point of view, voice, formatting, editing, revising, description, and word choice. With each chapter, there were many good points and things I hadn’t thought of before. At the end of each chapter, the author gav
Amy Saunders
Oct 13, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Any fiction writer.
Shelves: writing-craft
Another book that makes you dig deeper. I found the exercises refreshing compared to other similar guides. They require more time and thought but I've had many successful sessions using this book. The advice and suggestions has helped me improve in specific areas like dialogue. Plus, I love all the examples from famous authors. They really show how to use the information in the book. ...more
Scott Ansley
Feb 05, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great advice for writers of all levels. I think it would be considerably more useful as a reference then as something to attempt to read straight through. The repeated pattern of this is what this thing is called here is an example of this thing, gets a little obnoxious and agonizingly boring. I can't tell you how many times I fell asleep doing my reading assignment for the week. ...more
Dec 11, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: writing
This and its companion Writing Fiction Step by Step basically contain a lifetime worth of exercises and inspiration. On par with Gardner's The Art of Fiction, these two books could be the foundation textbooks for a series of creative writing courses: beginner to intermediate to advanced. ...more
Sep 10, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: creative writing students
This is an excellent text for writing fiction. My students found it interesting and approachable. The long list of exercises at the end of each chapter are just right for encouraging students to revisit chapters throughout the semester.

Laura Gilfillan
This was a good read, and has many ideas for writing exercises, which look interesting, but I don't know if I'd ever do. Might be worth a return to, but I wasn't as inspired as I was by other writing books I've read. ...more
Jen Appell
Jul 23, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book was great for writing! I took it out of the library and it really helped me get motivated as well as learn some new tips. It has a lot of exercises and examples as well. I'm pretty sure I'll be taking this out of the library again. ...more
Writing exercises at the end of every chapter.
May 24, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: writing, nonfiction
A good and comprehensive book about the basics of writing fiction.
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Josip Novakovich (Croatian: Novaković) is a Croatian-American writer. His grandparents had immigrated from the Croatia, then part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, to Cleveland, Ohio, and, after the First World War, his grandfather returned to what had become Yugoslavia. Josip Novakovich was born (in 1956) and grew up in the Central Croatian town of Daruvar, studied medicine in the northern Serbian ...more

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