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Creating Short Fiction: The Classic Guide to Writing Short Fiction

4.03  ·  Rating details ·  561 ratings  ·  48 reviews
Distilled from decades of teaching and practice, this book offers clear and direct advice on structure, pacing, dialogue, getting ideas, working with the unconscious, and more. Newly revised and expanded for this Third Edition, Creating Short Fiction is a popular and widely trusted guide to writing short stories of originality, durability, and quality. Celebrated short-sto ...more
Paperback, 224 pages
Published March 15th 1997 by St. Martin's Griffin (first published 1981)
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Average rating 4.03  · 
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 ·  561 ratings  ·  48 reviews

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Apr 11, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: writing
I've wanted to attend the Clarion Writing Workshop since I was fourteen. I'm sure books by the Clarion instructors are no match for the actual experience, but they'll have to do for now. And, well, this one will have to do for always, since Damon Knight passed away a few years ago and therefore isn't on the current list of Clarion instructors.
As with any writing guide, there are parts that are more and less useful depending on where the reader is as a writer. For me, the most interesting parts o
Aug 16, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: any writer, anyone interested in structure of fiction
Shelves: masterpieces, writing
Among the few practical and practicable writing books, this is a classic.

Knight was a fabulous short writer. With many authors that doesn't translate to writing good writing advice, but Knight as also introspective, insightful, and interested in theory. The book contains both cognitive models to help organize thinking and steps/processes to help get stories done.

The book begins with a great introduction on "Three Reasons I Should Not Have Written This Book" two being myths/half-truths about whe
May 16, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Too many books on writing are written by people who aren't primarily known as good writers. This is not one of them. Damon Knight was a well-respected and prolific writer, as well as a teacher of writing over many years at the highly-regarded Clarion workshops.

His depth of knowledge and insight are on display on every page of this book. Though a lot of the advice is foundational and suitable for beginners, as an intermediate writer I found plenty to learn. Occasionally, it feels like a collectio
Kira Gold
Jan 28, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: books-on-writing
Er. Well. Classic indeed.
This made me think of old college professors mouthing lectures they'd written back in the 1970's--the most modern storytelling reference was to the movie Alien, and almost every writing example used was by a white male author who hasn't published anything for 50 years.
But there are a lot of nuggets in this lesson, and it's worth a read if you're in the mood for good textbook stuff. I was struggling not to skim three-quarters of the way in, but this is more likely my old
Aug 21, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The funniest thing about this book was, while reading it, I became absorbed in its advice so much so that I didn't pay attention to how old it was. I came across a line about "new technology" and following that, home word processors. I was floored to say the least. But the advice is just that good, the advice is without restraint in the realm of time. Highly Recommend it!
Aug 06, 2014 rated it liked it
Actually, I'd give this one more like 2-1/2 stars. It gets pretty Oregonian in places (and all that business with the pronouns and such started to come off sounding vaguely anti-male), and it's also rather snobby and pedantic at times. But I did after all make it through the whole thing, which is more than I can say for most writing manuals. Anyway, the stuff about the stages in a proto-writer's career was illuminating, especially his account of his own fumbling efforts in that direction. And at ...more
Georgina Allen
Jan 31, 2011 rated it really liked it
A good general guide to writing short fiction (although much of the advice could be applied to any type of fiction). I particularly found the description section useful as this is something I struggle with, also helpful was the annotated breakdown of a short story talking through the reasoning behind each part - it's always much easier to understand the process with a good example.

I was hoping to gain a better understanding about the structure of a short story, though (particularly as I'm far mo
Therese Gilardi
Jan 16, 2012 rated it really liked it
love this book, especially the clever way the author sneaks in references to his wife kate's work as though she is just another writer out there ....
Joseph Carrabis
Jul 10, 2019 rated it it was ok
Caveat up front: I studied with Damon Knight a lifetime and a half ago.
This was a fascinating read for me as I could hear Knight speaking throughout. Is it a worthy book?
Not convinced it is. There’s a lot in it and Knight provides plenty of exercises. What is not provided is clear, concise examples of technique. There’s lots of “Some people do it this way, others do it that way, you find your own way.”
I’m not an advocate of that “find your own way” school until you’ve learned the basics. In trad
Feb 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: writing-craft
The information found in this book could be applied to all forms of writing, not just short story form. The author effectively describes all aspects of writing craft in a simple and straightforward manner. My favorite part of the book is Part II Idea into Story. Within this section, the author discusses how it is not enough to have a singular idea, but that one must connect it to at least another and develop it further. This section also covers research, plot, character, setting, and what a stor ...more
a hooded figure from your friendly neighbourhood dog park
White a bit dated and not exactly an eye opener, this book is very honest and somehow true to what being a writer is all about! And sometimes it just helps to see all this seemingly obvious stuff put together. Especially liked the part about being partners with your own subconscious - a helpful advice I'm going to try and follow from now on))
Emily Irish
Apr 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2018-to-read
Great book on the fundamentals of writing good fiction. The only reason this didn't get 5 stars from me is because the name is misleading. The book talks a lot about good general fiction practices, but offers no specifics on short fiction, what makes it different from novels, or advice on how to write a strong story with limited space. Still, I'd recommend to any writers of fiction.
Some very sound general writing advice. Not enough practical advice on writing Short Fiction for my expectations - nothing on SS structures, and the differences between short fiction and longer fiction, thenuances that can make short fiction writing more challenging.
Jan 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: writing
Good for beginners. Mostly about the creation process. Beginning, controlling, finishing. Not that much about the fine points of craft, which is not really the point of the book. Best part is about working with the unconscious, coming up with ideas and letting them gel.
May 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 5-star
This book immediately feels invaluable to me as I am trying to navigate my way into writing more short fiction. This book is practical and filled with great exercises, as well as plenty of useful advice. I will be returning to this book frequently in the coming years.
Jan 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing
There's a lot of great information in this book, even if some of the references are a bit dated due to the advances of technology.
James Yu
Aug 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A concise book about writing short stories. Focuses on very practical advice. I especially liked the section on how to diagnose issues in a story, and how to go about fixing them.
Jan 30, 2013 rated it it was amazing
CREATING SHORT FICTION by Damon Knight is a foundational, 101-level, instruction book that you’ve probably been looking for, especially if you are interested in writing genre fiction. This book will teach you to write better short stories and get them sold.

For those who are unfamiliar with Knight, he was an author, an editor, and a critic. Knight was a Hugo Award winner, founder of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA), cofounder of the Milford Writer’s Workshop, and cofounde
David Hammerstein
Sep 22, 2016 rated it really liked it
I found this book to be a succinct, balanced and practical guide to writing fiction. Damon Knight writes with the authority of a dedicated and accomplished author. The book offers practical exercises that complement the theory. Although most parts of the book are clear, I felt that the section on point of view lacked clarity. I enjoyed the passages about the life of a professional author, such as ways to cope with slumps and writers’ block. Damon Knight even offers suggestions about spouse selec ...more
Moira Russell
I think this is the book that first taught me about how the human mind likes to go 'ing ing ing': 'Opening the door and racing up the stairs the man only thought of grabbing the glittering ring.' (Along with the dry remark that the man couldn't do all that even if his arms were twenty feet long.) If this is so I owe Damon Knight a very large debt, and he also owes me one because now whenever I see that kind of thing (ing, ing, ing) in a story it makes me wince.
Angela Penrose
Nov 27, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nf-writing
Great book for beginners, a useful summation and reminder-of-details for the more experienced. A bit out of date in a couple of places, but that's understandable. Definitely a good read if you're into writing short stories. Note that although Knight is known as an SF writer, this book isn't particular to SF.
Alisha Brook
Oct 13, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 3andahalf-stars
Title: Creating Short Fiction - The Classic Guide to Writing Short Fiction
Series: -
Author: Damon Knight
Genre: Informational/ Writing
Rating: 3.5 stars

Very informative. It offers great advice to beginning writers and is quite a detailed resource.
Jackie Pick
Mar 11, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: writing, 2016, favorites
This book didn't find me at the right time, so with our first get-together last year didn't click.

I tried again, and poured over this book, taking notes and absorbing pearls of wisdom.

In a word: invaluable.
Jul 23, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Writers
I felt like less went over my head than it did years ago when I read it the first time, and that makes me happy, like I'm smarter or more perceptive now.

Simple, practical and insightful writing advice.
David Fortier
May 12, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
Probably the best book I've read on writing short fiction and one that helped me think about the smaller details, which helped my longer works.
Bill Lalonde
Jul 21, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A good, solid book on writing short stories. Nothing earth-shattering, but why should there be? Covers pretty much all you need to know to start.
Michelle Ann King
Feb 11, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Fabulous book, with tons of useful advice presented in an accessible style with humour and common sense. One of my favourite writing books and one I re-read regularly.
Sep 29, 2011 rated it it was amazing
A great practical manual of the craft of writing.
Madly Jane
Sep 05, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Wonderful book on short fiction.
Aug 13, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: reference
This is now my most dog-eared writing reference book. It's put together in just the right way to help me.
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Damon Francis Knight was an American science fiction author, editor, and critic.
Knight's first professional sale was a cartoon drawing to a science-fiction magazine, Amazing Stories. His first story, "Resilience", was published in 1941. He is best known as the author of "To Serve Man", which was adapted for The Twilight Zone. He was a recipient of the Hugo Award, founder of the Science Fiction and
“...There is no such thing as a story. The words on paper are only instructions used by each reader to create a story. The story itself exists in the reader's mind and nowhere else. And it is different for each reader, because no two people have the same experience, background, training, interests, and so on.” 2 likes
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