3 out of 4 stars
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Creating Literary Stories: A Fiction Writer’s Guide by William H. Coles is a classic handbook to help writers design and develop literary stories. The book intended to give the “know-how” about the fiction writing to novice writers, and for experienced writers a “standard” to review their fiction writing.
Coles, the author, is a several awards winner for Short Fiction and Creative Writing arenas. He transcribed his in-person interviews about writing with 31 established and well-known authors, editors, publishers, and a Pulitzer Prize winner. I agree Coles, being the domain master, is the best person for authoring guides in writing, like this one. He, in the domain contribution spree, transformed the writing knowledge into a practical working tool. It helps fellow writers to improve the quality. The website (https://www.storyinliteraryfiction.com) tells more of his professional acumen.
At first glance at its structure, the guide looks like an academic reference book. In reality, it is far different from the typical dummies series. It is a concise, yet structured as an easy reference, dedicated to improving the storytelling. The information in the book aides writers ease in the conception and execution of their stories.
The book has two parts. The first part is for various elements of literary fiction. It covers topics in characterization, effective plot structure, dramas, conversations, and flavor of humor to keep the interest of audiences. Every chapter segregated topics under bold subtitles. It helps the readers on the definition and conceptual info of different terms related to writing. An exclusive set of terminology included for authors to know about, like POV (point of view), the microscopic (close) or telescopic (distant) narrator, etc. The analysis, coupled with inline examples, helps to clear the concept. Covered in the second part is details the process of writing a successful literary story. It provides lessons on how to design great plot, storytelling, and creating emotional stories. Each chapter highlights the writing attributes; characterization, narrative perspective, story plot, drama, and theme. The author also talked about various styles and their merits and demerits.
On the superficial level, one may feel the information in the chapters of the first part replicated in the next part chapters. However, it’s not the case. The second part essentially summarizes the concepts covered in the first twelve chapters, in a more practical scenario of writing your story.
The appendix at the end listed self-reflection questions. This questionnaire ensures you are writing for the right intent. After using the book, the authors will be able to create and develop the characters in their stories.
I found the book professionally edited and followed an explanation easy to read and interpret. The English language used is flawless. The overall content follows a logical order. I come across some minor errors in punctuation and formatting. Possibly those got carried in the PDF version. In the aspect of the grammar, no flaws found. There was no mention of profanity, except one minor reference under the example of "sensual detail." For its excellent information in the writing domain, I give the book a score of 3 out of 4 stars. One star less only due to raw proofing retained some typos. The best part of the book I liked the most is the analysis and reasoning of the long-lived story, “Little Red Riding Hood.” I was disappointed with the limited volume of information in the book. There could have been more details should a prospective professional writer wished to see. Of course, the Resources for Writers on Coles’s website, “Story In Literary Fiction,” complements the gap.
I wish to recommend this book to aspiring writers, and those inclined to write stories in the fiction genre. The book is equally useful to experienced authors to polish their work to make sure the quality and standards I think the book fits more with the educational reference cadre. It would be an ideal reference to students of literature and English studies, to have in academic libraries.
Creating Literary Stories: A Fiction Writer's Guide
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