John Mullan wrote a weekly column for 'The Guardian' newspaper called 'Elements of Fiction'. In the column, Professor Mullan looked at novels of the recent past, many of which had become favourites of reading groups, such as 'Atonement' by Ian McEwan and 'The Blind Assassin' by Margaret Atwood. This book draws on that weekly column to provide a detailed examination of the novelist's craft. It looks in turn at each aspect of the novel, starting with titles and ending in epilogues and postscripts. As well as contemporary fiction, Professor Mullan also uses examples from the classics of English literature, such as the use of recollection in Daniel Defoe's 'Robinson Crusoe' and Jane Austen's use of free indirect style in 'Emma'. This books gets quite technical at times, but although Professor Mullan does employ terms like 'heteroglossia', he also provides lucid explanations within the text rather than having the reader refer to a glossary at the end of the book. 'Heteroglossia', if you were wondering, refers to a method of story telling with many different narrative voices, as in James Joyce's 'Ulysses', as opposed to the unified narrator's voice of Charlotte Bronte's 'Jane Eyre'.