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Writing Fiction Step by Step
ISBN 1884910351 / 9781884910357 / 1-884910-35-1
Publisher Story Press
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Many writers pooh-pooh the concept of writing exercises. Exercises seem perhaps an unnatural way to approach a seemingly organic process, and it can be hard to see them amounting to anything more than, well, exercises. While the great writers of the past may not have bothered with writing exercises, says Josip Novakovich in his introduction to Writing Fiction Step by Step, "they exercised by writing letters and by keeping journals and jotting down sketches." In other words, the telephone has made us lazy, and someone has to prod us into shape. So Novakovich proposes an "exercise plan" sure to stretch every fiction-writing muscle you've got. His 200-plus exercises are arranged by fictional element--starting with ideas, character, and plot moving through scene, dialogue, image, etc., and landing, finally, on "putting it all together." Each assignment is accompanied by a description of its purpose, a handful of writing tips, and a sort of teacher's checklist (about the ocean, for instance, he asks, "Where is the salt in your description?"). The exercises are playful, unusual, and meant to make your imaginative noodle dance. And don't worry--Novakovich doesn't want you to toil for naught; throughout the book he suggests ways in which you can combine various exercises to get something like a real piece of fiction going. In fact, he says, connecting the exercises might stimulate your fiction in surprising ways. After all, "putting different images together is the basic element of imagination." --Jane Steinberg [via]