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Crafting Novels & Short Stories: The Complete Guide to Writing Great Fiction

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Learn How to Create Stories That Captivate Agents, Editors, and Readers Alike! Inside you'll find the tools you need to build strong characters, keep your plots moving, master the art of dialogue, choose the right point of view, and more. This comprehensive book on the art of novel and short story writing is packed with advice and instruction from best-selling authors and wr Learn How to Create Stories That Captivate Agents, Editors, and Readers Alike! Inside you'll find the tools you need to build strong characters, keep your plots moving, master the art of dialogue, choose the right point of view, and more. This comprehensive book on the art of novel and short story writing is packed with advice and instruction from best-selling authors and writing experts like Nancy Kress, Elizabeth Sims, Hallie Ephron, N.M. Kelby, Heather Sellers, and Donald Maass, plus a foreword by James Scott Bell. You'll learn invaluable skills for mastering every area of the craft: Define and refine your characters. Make your plot and conflict high-energy and intense. Hone your story's point of view. Create a rich setting and backstory. Craft dialogue that rings true. Select the right words and descriptions throughout your story. Revise your story to perfection. Throughout you'll find supplemental sections that cover special topics like getting started, beating writer's block, researching your work, and getting published. They'll help you integrate your skills into a balanced, productive, and fulfilling career. Whether you're writing flash fiction, a short story, a novel, or an epic trilogy, you'll come away with the tools you need for strong and effective storytelling.


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Learn How to Create Stories That Captivate Agents, Editors, and Readers Alike! Inside you'll find the tools you need to build strong characters, keep your plots moving, master the art of dialogue, choose the right point of view, and more. This comprehensive book on the art of novel and short story writing is packed with advice and instruction from best-selling authors and wr Learn How to Create Stories That Captivate Agents, Editors, and Readers Alike! Inside you'll find the tools you need to build strong characters, keep your plots moving, master the art of dialogue, choose the right point of view, and more. This comprehensive book on the art of novel and short story writing is packed with advice and instruction from best-selling authors and writing experts like Nancy Kress, Elizabeth Sims, Hallie Ephron, N.M. Kelby, Heather Sellers, and Donald Maass, plus a foreword by James Scott Bell. You'll learn invaluable skills for mastering every area of the craft: Define and refine your characters. Make your plot and conflict high-energy and intense. Hone your story's point of view. Create a rich setting and backstory. Craft dialogue that rings true. Select the right words and descriptions throughout your story. Revise your story to perfection. Throughout you'll find supplemental sections that cover special topics like getting started, beating writer's block, researching your work, and getting published. They'll help you integrate your skills into a balanced, productive, and fulfilling career. Whether you're writing flash fiction, a short story, a novel, or an epic trilogy, you'll come away with the tools you need for strong and effective storytelling.

30 review for Crafting Novels & Short Stories: The Complete Guide to Writing Great Fiction

  1. 5 out of 5

    Florin Pitea

    A collection of Writer's Digest articles on the craft of fiction writing, this book covers, in turn, each stage in the process, from planning to writing the first draft to revising to submitting the manuscript for publication. Also, special sections contain practical advice on how to integrate writing routines into everyday life. Recommended.

  2. 5 out of 5

    emily

    To be fair, I'm not even 100 pages in yet, but this book and it's "tips" have irked me on almost every single page so far. Especially as I read it right after Reading Like a Writer by Francine Prose (which is a million miles better, more instructive, and to a higher level), this book pales in comparison, and gives the kind of writing advice that Reading Like a Writer warned us to remain wary about - particularly how this book tells you many things you should not do, when in Reading Like a Writer To be fair, I'm not even 100 pages in yet, but this book and it's "tips" have irked me on almost every single page so far. Especially as I read it right after Reading Like a Writer by Francine Prose (which is a million miles better, more instructive, and to a higher level), this book pales in comparison, and gives the kind of writing advice that Reading Like a Writer warned us to remain wary about - particularly how this book tells you many things you should not do, when in Reading Like a Writer, an entire section is dedicated to showing the writers who ignored these "don't"'s to great success. Not to mention that the tips here are often half-hearted pointing out of things I've known since high school English class (which had a LOUSY curriculum, so that's saying something...). The way tips are worded/the way it is advised you go about implementing these tips makes the tips almost wrong or misguiding - ie. telling writers to base their characters off of a pick-n-mix of characteristics of people they know in real life! If you think about it, yes, this is sound advice, however, for a start, we are already aware that characters are (or are like) real people (which is stated multiple times in a single section, as though we, as writers, would have been unaware of this fact), and secondly I feel as though there could have been a much better way to word it - such as simply advising to think about the great number of characteristics and conflicting aspects of any one person's personality and to keep this in mind when creating characters. And honestly, anyone who has played The Sims 3 and given sims random traits will be very much aware of the diversity of human life, if they weren't from their experiences in real life already. In another part - a part on romance writing - it says to only create likeable characters - those who who are ALWAYS nice NO MATTER WHAT and who has flaws but none that would detract at all from the character's likeability, and those who NEVER say anything cruel or mean even and ESPECIALLY in the face of a character who may actually deserve it. WHAT BOLLOCKS! This type of advice is another thing we're warned to remain wary about in Reading Like a Writer (and what about Oliver Tate in Submarine? Part of it's hilarity and likeability as a story, is the fact that Oliver is basically a pretentious, self-involved little shit!). Perhaps I'm so heavily against this idea due to the fact that most of my favourite characters are so heavily flawed, yet still capable of romance and relationships and success. Most of all, though, this book really only aims to guide those who wish to write genre fiction, more flash-in-the-pan style books rather than anything lasting or classic. Which there is nothing wrong with, but this book actually accidentally portrays genre fiction in the worst way and I honestly pity any person who takes any of these tips as gospel. I'll keep reading though, maybe they'll be SOMETHING I can take away from it (other than a burning desire to write everything the way it's been said not to, to prove that it can be done).

  3. 4 out of 5

    Dee Waite

    Just finished reading Crafting Novels & Short Stories. Excellent book full of concrete information. Holds the tools you need to build strong characters, keep your plot moving, master the art of dialogue, choose the right point of view, and more. Highly recommend. Just finished reading Crafting Novels & Short Stories. Excellent book full of concrete information. Holds the tools you need to build strong characters, keep your plot moving, master the art of dialogue, choose the right point of view, and more. Highly recommend.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Unaris

    This is one of the worst instructional material I've ever read. Skip it completely, as there is lots of better books about this subject out there. For one, the author thinks being antisocial and being a sociopath are the same thing. Secondly, when the author gets to the subject of writing a good villain, the author recommends making your villain have several mental disorders to make them dislikeable and to give them an excuse to behave irrationally. Are you for real? Thirdly, the author writes P This is one of the worst instructional material I've ever read. Skip it completely, as there is lots of better books about this subject out there. For one, the author thinks being antisocial and being a sociopath are the same thing. Secondly, when the author gets to the subject of writing a good villain, the author recommends making your villain have several mental disorders to make them dislikeable and to give them an excuse to behave irrationally. Are you for real? Thirdly, the author writes PARAGRAPHS about if you want a good protagonist then never EVER EVER have them commit adultery. EVER. Then the author says never have your protagonists say anything mean EVER. Sorry, but I prefer bias out of my instructional books. I do not want to hear about the authors dumb biased opinions in my instructional novels. Its like a brain-damaged orangutan wrote this book.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Andrew Post

    I've read how-to-write books before, but this might be the most singularly helpful writing book I've ever read. The chapters are accessibly short, and offer a refreshing variety of voices and opinions and tips. Moreover the book covers, as far as I can see, every single aspect of the writing process, as well as helpful little asides about research, work-life balance, motivation, and so on. The book is entirely unpretentious and not condescending or supercilious in the slightest, and makes the wr I've read how-to-write books before, but this might be the most singularly helpful writing book I've ever read. The chapters are accessibly short, and offer a refreshing variety of voices and opinions and tips. Moreover the book covers, as far as I can see, every single aspect of the writing process, as well as helpful little asides about research, work-life balance, motivation, and so on. The book is entirely unpretentious and not condescending or supercilious in the slightest, and makes the writing life seem accessible without being patronizing. I'd recommend this to anyone thinking about getting into fiction writing, or anyone who already has and (like me) needed a refresher.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Lauren

    This book has a TON of repeat information... I mean the cut chapter one out of the Writers Digest series Write Great Fiction and pasted it to make this book. If you want more than a summary, than try the series mentioned. If you are not a beginner and have read writing books, you will likely use this as a coaster.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Erin

    There are some good pointers here as well as information you can go back to at different stages in your writing. It is repetitive. I felt much of the information is relative to the type of writer you are and many of the contributors directly contradict one another as to what is necessary and what is not (art vs. form).

  8. 4 out of 5

    Amber

    There are three types of information in this book: industry and pro tips, stuff you might know but it's helpful to have exemplified, and information that you know but could use a refresher on. There categories are helpful as are the multiple authors (hence multiple perspectives). Unless you're regularly selling blockbusters, you can probably find some help in here.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Kristian Thoroughgood

    A collection of essays and webposts from WritersDigest, this is an excellent writing advice book. Solid tips, easy to read and understand, I chewed through this in a few days because it's written in an engaging & instructional style. Would recommend. A collection of essays and webposts from WritersDigest, this is an excellent writing advice book. Solid tips, easy to read and understand, I chewed through this in a few days because it's written in an engaging & instructional style. Would recommend.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Kasie Whitener

    I skipped around because from beginning-to-end wasn't getting it done. But even just choosing what to read I had a hard time wanting to read this book. It was just boring mostly.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Michelle

    I like this book as reference material, it very thoroughly covers the basics, offers analysis of "the reader," and is edited in such a way where every article/subtopic can be read totally independently of the others. However, in terms of "how to write a book" it feels both rudimentary and overwrought. I would not recommend anyone try to write a novel following every single step in this book. A short story might be doable, but not a novel. It is a good starting point, but whenever you're reading a I like this book as reference material, it very thoroughly covers the basics, offers analysis of "the reader," and is edited in such a way where every article/subtopic can be read totally independently of the others. However, in terms of "how to write a book" it feels both rudimentary and overwrought. I would not recommend anyone try to write a novel following every single step in this book. A short story might be doable, but not a novel. It is a good starting point, but whenever you're reading and you think "I don't like this process" or "that doesn't sound right," remember that there are many ways to write. Jump off from this and search for something that works for you. I DO recommend having this on hand, just don't treat it like the Bible. Disclaimer: I am not a published author, and so take my criticism for what it's worth.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Grant Hayward

    This is an extremely helpful and practical guide for any wanna-be writer out there. It's basically a collection of instructional/informational articles by various best-selling authors on various topics, focusing on how to create interesting plots and characters, how to weave layers of conflict together, how to control your writing and write with purpose. Basically, how to be a better writer. Not all articles are equally helpful, and as it's a compilation from various authors, some opinions will o This is an extremely helpful and practical guide for any wanna-be writer out there. It's basically a collection of instructional/informational articles by various best-selling authors on various topics, focusing on how to create interesting plots and characters, how to weave layers of conflict together, how to control your writing and write with purpose. Basically, how to be a better writer. Not all articles are equally helpful, and as it's a compilation from various authors, some opinions will overlap (therefore be repeated), and others even have different viewpoints. If you are a beginner writer and want to write, read this for sure!

  13. 5 out of 5

    Michael Brenyo

    A book that goes back and forth between helpful and rubbish. There are some good nuggets in here and general advice that can help anyone improve their writing. But, a few of the authors rely too much on the "follow your heart" way of thinking. Like other people unable to admit that their success was basically due to a massive amount of luck, they give vague and indeterminate advice like "listen to your inner voice" or "write with feeling. " Ok, great, thanks. If you ignore that garbage, the book A book that goes back and forth between helpful and rubbish. There are some good nuggets in here and general advice that can help anyone improve their writing. But, a few of the authors rely too much on the "follow your heart" way of thinking. Like other people unable to admit that their success was basically due to a massive amount of luck, they give vague and indeterminate advice like "listen to your inner voice" or "write with feeling. " Ok, great, thanks. If you ignore that garbage, the book is pretty good. It was a quick read as well. Definitely worth picking up for a few tips or to reconfirm what you may already know.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Raynička

    Although it took me a while to read this, overall I think this book is good. Not horrible, not perfect. It contains many infos which will remind you those blog articles you can find. Some of the articles were useless, some boring, but I found some really interesting ones, along with the few useful exercises. I wouldn't recommend to read this as a normal book from start to finish. Just pick a topic you are interested in and read.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Lauren Kayes

    Mixed bag. The title is misleading--I expected more information specifically geared toward short stories, but there's very little, and a lot of the chapters address genre fiction like romance and mystery which aren't relevant to my work/interests. Still, there were a handful of helpful gems, so not a bad read on the whole. Take what works and leave the rest.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Nic

    Very good book on writing. It's one of those "Well duh" kind of things, but am I honestly always thinking about reducing adverbs, speeding up slow scenes, talking to my characters and asking them questions, finding ways to challenge my minor characters AND SO ON AND SO ON? No, it only feels like common sense when someone reminds you it's common sense.

  17. 4 out of 5

    J.K. Riki

    I didn't finish this one. It was fine, but it just seemed to lack the sort of hook that makes you want to keep reading. Some of the essays were informative, some felt lacking or simply dull. If you have the patience for it I'm sure it could be helpful, but it just said too much of what I've already heard numerous times - only here in a boring "voice."

  18. 4 out of 5

    K.

    Good characters never say anything mean? But those are my favorite types of characters! Mostly enjoyed this for the writing exercises, because I could have a million of prompts and ideas and never be satisfied.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Christabelle

    I really liked this one, but to be fair, I began in the middle and only read the parts that I felt I needed currently. I enjoy having the different perspectives from various writers and I felt their information was useful. This would be worth having on the reference shelf at home.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Grey

    A compilation of advices from different authors will result in repeated mantras, but there are more good and practical tips than bad ones.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Raven Black

    I finished this book but most of the information in already knew I wanted new informati N.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Laura

    BEST BOOK EVER

  23. 5 out of 5

    Elisabeth Bridges

    Amazing resource! Stuffed with information on all kinds of topics.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Amy

    Handy for teaching older kids to write.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth

    Judging from the permissions page, this book is a collection of articles that previously appeared in Writer's Digest Magazine with an occasional excerpt from a book published by Writer's Digest. Obviously the authors didn't coordinate their articles with each other, so there's some overlap in what they cover and the occasional contradiction. Nor does any topic get covered in much depth, so "Complete Guide to Writing Great Fiction" is an exaggeration. I'd suggest borrowing this book before decidi Judging from the permissions page, this book is a collection of articles that previously appeared in Writer's Digest Magazine with an occasional excerpt from a book published by Writer's Digest. Obviously the authors didn't coordinate their articles with each other, so there's some overlap in what they cover and the occasional contradiction. Nor does any topic get covered in much depth, so "Complete Guide to Writing Great Fiction" is an exaggeration. I'd suggest borrowing this book before deciding to buy it. It's like a sampler platter of Writer's Digest authors, and it may work better to give you an idea of which of those authors you like than as an instruction book on writing.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Raimey Gallant

    So many talented writers contributed to this writers' tool. I was jumping back and forth between chapters, so I started putting check marks beside the chapters I read. It's now to the point where most of the chapters have at least two check marks beside them, because I find the information so helpful to revisit.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Lindah

    Loved this book. Full of condensed information and topics, as well as so much wonderful and much-needed re-assurance that a novice writer is coming along fine. I'm very impressed with the quality of all the Writers' Digest books I've read so far.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Larry K

    helpful. slightly inspiring but mostly technical. some pieces are better than others and some pieces make the whole process of writing and publishing seem like an overwhelming herculean task that may end in total defeat.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Bruce Smith

    It is a collection of various authors, and some of the articles are repetitive while others are contradictory. But I also learned a few things, so I rate it as useful, and those sections will be reread.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Brett Buckley

    A wealth of all sorts of writing advice, full of practical stuff i've actually used.

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