3 out of 4 stars
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Creating Literary Stories: A Fiction Writer’s Guide is a handbook designed to help writers navigate the murky waters of story conception and execution. It was written by William H. Coles, an author who has won awards such as the Flannery O’ Connor Award for Short Fiction. His book is separated into two parts. The first part discusses the various elements of literary fiction and the second part provides advice on how to create an interesting and successful fiction story. The importance of characters, setting, and conflict in a story are explained in detail. Advice for writing in different points of view are also explored.
I chose this book to read and review because I write short stories for magazines and blogs. Some have been published and some haven’t, so I was hoping that this book could offer some advice and help me to master the skill of writing fiction. I was not disappointed. I really liked how William H. Coles analyzed the features of literary fiction, especially the different kinds of points of view (first-person, third-person, and narrator’s POV). He described the narrator as floating in a hot air balloon, providing useful overviews as the events in a story unfold. I also learned that using the second-person point of view in a story does not leave a big impact on most readers and can even come across as confrontational to some.
To illustrate the reasons why stories are effective, William H. Coles did a thorough analysis of Little Red Riding Hood, a story that has lasted 150 years. This was what I enjoyed the most. He wrote about the messages that this story conveyed, and, I realized that it was only able to present these messages effectively because the main character drove the plot. From this, I learned how valuable good characterization is. Furthermore, I liked how the author twisted this childhood story to form an action-adventure version as well as a more realistic one which was less effective at conveying the initial messages. Giving both positive and negative examples in this handbook was something I definitely appreciated. There was even a chapter explaining why literary stories fail.
This book definitely made me see fiction-writing differently. It made me contemplate the reasons why I write stories. It made me realize the importance of my readers and the importance of structuring my stories in a meaningful way for their enjoyment. I felt like I have learned a lot about writing from reading this book and I’m excited to apply this newfound knowledge. Anyone who is interested in writing literary fiction should read this book. Authors who want to brush up on their writing skills and students who are pursuing creative writing or literary studies will also benefit from reading this book. I rate it 3 out of 4 stars.
I wanted to give this book a perfect rating, but I couldn’t. As for grammatical mistakes, there were only a couple of minor ones. However, there were many formatting errors which included crossed-out words and colored correction pointers. For this reason, I deducted a star from the final rating.
Creating Literary Stories: A Fiction Writer's Guide
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