Stein on Writing provides immediately useful advice for all writers of fiction and nonfiction, whether they are newcomers or old hands, students or instructors, amateurs or professionals. As the always clear and direct Stein explains here, “This is not a book of theory. It is a book of usable solutions–how to fix writing that is flawed, how to improve writing that is good, how to create interesting writing in the first place.”
With examples from bestsellers as well as from students’ drafts, Stein offers detailed sections on characterization, dialogue, pacing, flashbacks, trimming away flabby wording, the so-called “triage” method of revision, using the techniques of fiction to enliven nonfiction, and more.
A long read but worth the time, this book is a bit outdated but still incredibly relevant.
Written in 1995, many things in publishing have changed since this was published (the entire last chapter of this book is basically worthless as a resources guide), but the heart of writing never misses a beat — you need fully developed characters, a solid plot, and tension in novels, and nonfiction needs to tell the truth in a captivating way.
Whether your write fiction, nonfiction, or articles, there really is something for every writer in this book. Not to mention its fascinating to see how much has changed in less than 30 years, especially regarding commercial or “popular” fiction. Stein seemed to have a bit of an issue with popular fiction (what we call genre fiction today). I wasn’t writing in 1995 so I don’t know what the industry standards were, but most of the craft techniques he taught in this book do, in fact, apply to today’s genre fiction–craft matters, and successful writers spend years studying it.
If you want to write better books, I highly recommend this one. Get your copy here!