3 out of 4 stars
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In Creating Literary Stories: A Fiction Writer’s Guide, the author, William H. Coles does exactly what it says on the cover. He leads his reader through how Literary Fiction differs from other types of fiction and explains what marks it out. These are not fluffy explanations! This is proper English Literature education for the purpose of making you a better literary fiction writer. The book itself is divided into two ‘books’.
Book 1 gives the reader the theory about literary fiction over 12 chapters. It is a brilliant overview of the way literary fiction is written. Coles tells us that literary fiction ‘as it has evolved over the centuries is distinct from genre fiction, memoir, nonfiction, autobiography, or creative nonfiction’. He also explains how it works and why it can fail. As such it is really good for not just the aspiring literary fiction writer, but for any reader of literary fiction and a student studying fiction as well.
Book 2 five chapters and is about ‘Creating a Literary Fictional Story’. I really enjoyed reading this as it gives important details of what is required to successfully write this sort of fiction. The author guides us to consider every element. For example, from characterisation to plotting, from narration to themes.
In Book 2 the reader is given sections called GUIDELINES. These include tasks for the reader to do in order to check their writing process is on track and see where it can be improved. It reads something like having a tutor critique your work and give you methods to correct it. This book would be useful for any writer, whether one is interested in Literary Fiction or not, as it is very strong on talking about writing in general.
To me, it does read like a series of lectures on the subject by a very knowledgeable professor, and I liked that. But I do recognise that some people might find the tone too ‘lofty’ and leave them feeling out of their depth. However, the book’s tone is entirely due to the nature of its subject. If it had been too chatty or less thoughtful it would not have worked.
Overall, I found the book very enjoyable and I rate this book 3 out of 4 stars. 3 because it may not connect with some readers who might feel it’s too difficult either to understand or follow through with the tips and guidelines in their own writing.
Creating Literary Stories: A Fiction Writer's Guide
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