4 out of 4 stars
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Creating Literary Stories: A Fiction Writer's Guide by William H. Coles is a detailed examination of all elements needed to create memorable and credible literary fiction.
Coles, who has penned other non-fiction books teaching about literary fiction as well as fictional books and short stories, takes great care in differentiating literary fiction from genre fiction. He walks the reader through each chapter of Books One and Two, delving into, but not limiting information to character development, point-of-view, voice, humor, time and narration. As he does so, Coles stresses the importance of the writer’s imagination and creative skill as the foundation for creating timeless literary fiction.
What I liked most about this book was how Coles started off Book One, Chapter One by defining each of the writing terms he spoke of and continued doing so throughout the book – very helpful for those unfamiliar with the many terms involved. Also, extremely helpful was the division of ideas with bold subtitles. It made reading so much information easier by breaking up text.
Another important point for me was Coles’ use of examples to illustrate what he was explaining, for example, point-of-view as he did in Book One, Chapter Three. He used a short paragraph to show it written in first-person point-of-view and then in third person point-of-view. Since this is a book teaching literary fiction and not an instructor in a classroom, the examples Coles used throughout the book breathed life into his lessons.
What I disliked most was that I felt like Coles repeated much of his information from Book One, into Book Two. For example, “character/characterization” is covered in detail in Book One, Chapter Two and then again in Book Two, Chapter One. In both Book One and Book Two characterization is defined and elaborated upon, explaining its importance to creating literary fiction.
In addition to characterization, there are other areas of Book Two (Chapter Two, Essentials of Literary Story Writing) where I thought Coles was regurgitating elements that he’d already covered in Book One. For instance:
• Narration and voice were covered in Chapter Three;
• Dialogue was covered in Chapter Four.
• Conflict, drama, syntax, and language were all covered in Chapter Five.
I believe the ideal audience for this book would be writers specializing in literary fiction specifically, but also writers of all fiction in general. Coles offers extensive information about creating believable characters and stories, which I think is beneficial to all writers of fiction.
I rate this book four out of four stars. While I disliked what I believed was duplicate information, I believe that the book thoroughly covered all the elements and topics that a person learning to write literary fiction would need in order to create believable stories. Also, I believe the book deserved this rating because it was easy to understand with minimal errors and complete in the author's quest to offer comprehensive information for writers of literary fiction.
Creating Literary Stories: A Fiction Writer's Guide
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