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Solutions for Writers: Practical Craft Techniques for Fiction and Non-fiction [Paperback]

Sol Stein
4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
Price: 12.99 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

26 Aug 1999
Whether you are a beginner or an accomplished professional, whether your field is fiction, non-fiction or journalism, you will find in this book a wealth of helpful guidance from one of the century's master editors, unavailable anywhere else. No high-flown theory, just usefull solutions that will show you how to rework writing that is flawed, how to improve writing that is good, how to create interesting writing in the first place. After reading this book you will be able to: grab your readers with your opening sentence - sketch in your characters with a few deft words - create attention-holding suspense - write dialogue that is both exciting and moves the story forward - use flasbacks to telling effect - write love scenes that really work - vary the pace of your writing - judge where to cut and prune - think up really selling titles - enhance non-fiction with the techniques of fiction - and much, much more. Above all you will learn the secrets of successful revision and acquire the art of assessing your own work objectively. Fresh, useful, informative and fun to read and reread, 'Solutions for Writers', is packed with ideas, examples of techniques in practice, and advice that makes you see the craft of writing in an entirely new light. It is a book that you will mark up, dog-ear and cherish.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Souvenir Press Ltd; New Ed edition (26 Aug 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0285635255
  • ISBN-13: 978-0285635258
  • Product Dimensions: 15.4 x 23.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 35,441 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Amazon Review

"Your predecessor," warns Sol Stein in this imminently useful guide, "recited his stories around a fire. If he failed to arouse his listeners' anticipation and droned on, or if his audience guessed what happened next, they either fell asleep or killed him. You are lucky! If you fail to arouse your reader's interest, the worst that will happen is that you won't get published." Perhaps a tad stern for the meek at heart, but if editing a coterie of literary greats--Elia Kazan, Dylan Thomas, and James Baldwin, to name a few--plus hammering out nine novels, two prize-winning plays and a book of non-fiction doesn't earn him the right, what does?

Stein is not one to disguise the fact that writing is hard work. Chapters focus on crucial "how to's"--hooking the reader, creating suspense, cultivating eccentricity, successfully employing literary devices--along with all the essential nuts and bolts. Copious examples enhance the overall effectiveness of his advice. For instance, in "Come Right In: First Sentences, First Paragraphs," he presents a dozen or more first lines from some of the 20th century's best fiction, then shows how an off-putting opener might be improved.

Stern has no easy fixes or magic pills. But if you want practical suggestions for firming flabby prose, you're sure to dog-ear this handy, informative book. --Martha Silano --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Sol Stein has edited authors as diverse as James Baldwin, Dylan Thomas, Jack Higgins, W.H Auden, Elia Kazan and David Frost. He is himself a successful novelist, playwright and poet and has won awards for his courses in creative writing.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
34 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Full of gems and practical advice 24 Mar 2001
By A Customer
Working on the umpteenth draft of my second novel, this book has pointed out all the mistakes I made in the original planning phase. I realise now why my book 'sags' in the middle. Thankfully, 'Solutions' offers supremely practical ... well, solutions. With tips from chapter 9, 'Suspense: Keeping the Reader Reading', I should be able to fix the sag.
There are also techniques for non-fiction writers, worth reading even if you have never written an article and never intend to.
'Solutions for Writers' is also full of great quotes, like Vonnegut's "Make your characters want something right away even if it's only a glass of water." But my favourite is one in the chapter titled 'Liposuctioning Flab' which I'd never come across before: "If you catch an adjective, kill it!" (Mark Twain)
There's also a fun Ten Commandments for Writers at the end. Commandment number 8: "Thou shalt have no rest on the sabbath, for thy characters shall live in thy mind and memory now and forever."
I'm just glad I've found this book before plotting out novel number three!
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Best How-To Book I've Read 18 July 2009
The first book of Mr Stein's I read was 'Solutions for Novelists', which is also a very good book, but one that made me cross. When I reached the chapter on revising - the chapter I was, at the time, most interested in - it said 'the method I recommend is covered in another book of mine, Solutions for Writers'. At first I thought that was a money-grabbing ploy to sell more books, and swore I would never buy or read another book by Mr Stein. But after I calmed down, and thought about how much I'd learned from 'Solutions for Novelists', I decided to stretch a point, and I'm very glad I did.

I have read around 40 how-to books on writing, and if I had to choose one to take to a desert island, it would be this one. It really does include so many practical solutions that I now re-read it regularly, turning to particular chapters for specific issues, and re-reading from cover to cover every couple of years. The book covers fiction and non-fiction, and makes the point that many of the same techniques need to be used by writers in both camps, to make writing come alive and appeal to its readers. Mr Stein's writing style is very clear and readable, frequently humorous, and based on decades of knowledge and experience. Highly recommended.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Genuinely useful insights for any writer 19 Sep 2004
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I'd written a whole novel before I picked up Sol Stein's book and started reading it seriously. I so wish I'd done that before.
It is packed with genuinely useful insights, written in a witty, anecdotal style that is a pleasure to read. Much of the advice evoked the 'yeah, yeah, know all that stuff' response at first sight. When I picked it up again, months later, it immediately highlighted many weakness and problems in my own work. He opens our eyes to the obvious faults we fail to notice.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Solutions for Writers 28 Sep 2010
~For anyone starting out as a writer, or wanting to improve their writing, this is an excellent resource. As an editor, it is definitely something I would recommend to writers, and I would also use it on the writers' courses I teach on.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What an excellent guide 19 Nov 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book was recommended me to a leading professional in the writing industry and I have to agree - What an excellent guide to writing. The concise chapters meant I could learn something new everyday and I've already put some of the advice to good effect.
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5.0 out of 5 stars the go to book for how to write 7 July 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Stein gives the advice you need, clearly, concisely and cleverly. Should be required reading for all would be/could be writers
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5.0 out of 5 stars A gift for my dad 25 Jun 2014
By Yerrr
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
My dad makes movies and writes stories and he loves this book. He has already learned a million knew tricks and rules and I can see the difference in his writing... and he's only 1/4 the way through.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars A few good ideas
Given as a present to a daughter, I can say, second hand, she found it useful. Or so she told me.
Published 8 months ago by Alexander McKay
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant book.
Book lives up to the accolades it has been given. Really interesting reading. Many hints and tips for writers but also provides a really good guide for a reader as to how good... Read more
Published 10 months ago by donerac
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing
I have bought plenty of books on this subject but this one--in my view--is thee book to buy without doubt
Published 14 months ago by Philip Tomkinson
5.0 out of 5 stars Inspiring
In Solutions for Writers Sol Stein has given us a book which should be read by aspiring writers and writers alike. Read more
Published 17 months ago by Wendy Jones
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent
If you've been developing your creative writing skills and studying the craft for a few years, as I have, this book does as it says. Read more
Published on 27 July 2012 by Uriah Cameron
5.0 out of 5 stars Solutions for Writers: Practical Craft Techniques for Fiction and...
Clear, direct and too the point. Does what it says on the label. Not only does it give clear techniques with practical examples, but also divides it up into easily degestible... Read more
Published on 30 Sep 2011 by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best books on writing.
I have dozens of books on writing and this is one of the best I own. Sol Stein writes in an interesting style to reveal cracking information about fiction and non-fiction. Read more
Published on 28 May 2011 by Ian Johnson
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