Top positive review
34 of 34 people found this helpful
Essential reading for serious fiction writers
on 13 February 2004
I'd recommend this book to anyone who wants to take the next step to becoming a competent fiction writer (the step that most amateur writers never take). If you've read one or two titles from the Writer's Digest series, for example, and want to go further and deeper, this is well worth a look. What you'll find here isn't a glib set of checklists and formulae. Instead, you get Sol Stein's philosophy of fiction writing.
The book is divided into three sections. Section 1, "The Responsibilities of the Writer" comprises the vast bulk of the material (about 170 of 200 pages). The section title offers a hint about the nature of Sol Stein's writing philosophy: to give readers the experience they want. Among the tools Stein offers for this are conflict, character building, writing dialogue that crackles rather than flopping, point-of-view... there are plenty of other books that cover these topics, but not many with this depth of accessible insight (one exception, perhaps, is Orson Scott Card's "Characters and Viewpoint").
It's worth noting that this book was published in the USA as "How to Grow a Novel", and is available under both titles on Amazon -- something that could lead to duplication for Sol Stein completists, but at least it means you can sample the text by going to Amazon's US website and using their "Look Inside" feature on "How to Grow a Novel".
Regardless of the title on the cover, for a single source aimed at the moderately advanced writer who wants to learn (in Stein's word) to be "writerly", I don't think this book can be bettered.