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Techniques of the Selling Writer
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on 2 February 2009
Techniques of the Selling Writer is a guide for those that above all want to write stories. This emphasis is important. Swain draws a distinction between stories and other kinds of writing. He doesn't try to denigrate "high" fiction but clearly states that his business is to teach you how to write stories that sell.

The good thing about this book is that while it doesn't cloud the fact that writing fiction is a difficult business, it does make you feel as if you can achieve something. Swain spends a lot of time bolstering your ego and assuring you that it can be done, saying that "A story is the triumph of ego over fear of failure." Sure, there is a lot of encouragement here but mostly the confidence you receive is from his step by step approach. Swain really does his best to arm you with useful, practical tools and techniques for producing stories.

The book takes you through the process of writing and what you should be doing at each stage. Fascinating, and for me revelatory, is its discussion of the writer's relationship with the reader; what this reader expects from a story and how the writer can provide this. Swain breaks everything down into easy to understand lists which he proceeds to explain in detail and with clear examples.

In its way I found this to be quite a philosophical book. Apart from the practical guidance there is much here on the nature of feeling and therefore what it is to be human. Swain has a deep insight into people and this is good as what else should you expect from a writer?

A few words of warning though: This book is quite old now. Much of it is outdated. Swain references many writers and works of fiction that the modern reader probably has never heard of. Swain uses slang and idioms straight from the early 1960s. This means that sometimes you need to reread his points just to be sure you understand. Finally there is much that today we would find politically incorrect.

Don't let these points put you off though. Though Swain's book could do with a bit of polishing up to bring it in line with the times the strength and quality of his advice is sound nonetheless. It certainly has made me think in a more analytically detailed way about how I write.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 17 December 2011
This book was written almost fifty years ago and has an antique style to it (the author calls the reader 'friend' on occasion), but there's a lot of good stuff here. In fact having read a lot of these books, I think the aspiring novelist would find every important piece of advice covered here.

The title makes it sound like some sort of get-rich-quick self-help book for the blockbuster author, but it's not; it's about the craft.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
I've read a lot of books about fiction writing. This is still the best.
No alone does a lot of authors of the other books refer to this one, but one of the best parts about this book is actually the repetition. Swain keeps repeating each technique several times in different ways. When you have finished a chapter, you've got it under your skin. As it doesn't talk a lot about grammar, it is worth reading, also for us from countries outside of England. The target reader might be a little more skilled than a beginner.
I highly recommend this book. Just get it!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 11 February 2013
This book is amazing!
it gives structured advice on improving your writing, the author gives practical advice and tips that you can use in your own writing, Im glad i bought it, its enjoyable to read and made me want to write as best I could, i also took notes from it which helped me remember the tips and use them more effectively in my writing, a great book :D
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 20 February 2015
The first chapter of this book outlines a type of write who worries about technique, and who copies other writers in order to learn. That was me. Then it explains, quite politely, how this writer will not produce good fiction, because they will not understand the *reason* the author used a certain technique. Also me. Then it tells us what the reason was: they were trying to create an emotional experience. I immediately switched how I wrote from thinking about the technical aspects, to using emotion. That was when I began to really write.
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24 of 29 people found the following review helpful
on 26 October 1998
This is one of the best books ever written for the aspiring fiction writer. I know, because it helped me become a published author. Swain writes in an engaging and entirely practical way. If you want to write, do yourself a favor and get this book
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 18 September 2013
Simply the best choice for an aspiring bestselling author ever written thus far. This book should form the backbone of any serious attempt to master writing, regardless of the chosen genre. The essential techniques are as valid today as when this book was written, and have never before or since been conveyed so comprehensively.
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20 of 25 people found the following review helpful
on 30 March 1999
Dwight Swain reveals the intricacies of novel writing in a way that is comprehensive and easy to understand. He takes you through the process and technique of creating fiction step by step. He poses the questions to his own answers--and answers them. Nothing could be simpler, and nothing could be finer than Dwight Swain, who remains in my opinion the finest teacher of novel writing ever to grace the pages of writing insruction.
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on 27 February 2015
I have a lot of books on technique, but this is by far the best. It's especially good on scene and sequel structure, and the explanations and examples are clear. His writing style also kept me glued to the book to the end. Highly recommend.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 19 September 2009
This book does not try to teach you how to write. Instead it gives amazing techniques on how to tell a story. The stuff is simple, yet effective. I kicked myself when I realised some of the simple errors I was making in my novels. This book alone has made my latest work my best yet. If you are a novelist it would be a smart move to have a copy of this book.

5 stars without doubt.
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