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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Masterly Introduction to the Creative Writing Craft
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Reviewed by C J Singh (Berkeley, California)

Recently, I published a review of the new edition of Jurgen Wolff's Your Writing Coach. Throughout that book, Wolff sustained an encouraging and witty tone as he does in his latest book, YOUR CREATIVE WRITING MASTERCLASS.

The masterclass book comprises six parts. In Part I, Finding Inspiration,...
Published on 13 May 2012 by C. J. Singh

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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Ok
I personally found it hard-going and the various quotes and pieces from famous writers didn't feel relevant.
I don't think I took anything away from this book, sadly, although it isn't badly written by any means. Its just there are better out there (and for less too)
Published 16 months ago by AgentMulderUK


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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Masterly Introduction to the Creative Writing Craft, 13 May 2012
By 
C. J. Singh (Berkeley, California, USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Your Creative Writing Masterclass: featuring Austen, Chekhov, Dickens, Hemingway, Nabokov, Vonnegut, and more than 100 contemporary and classic ... novels, screenplays and short stories (Paperback)
.
Reviewed by C J Singh (Berkeley, California)

Recently, I published a review of the new edition of Jurgen Wolff's Your Writing Coach. Throughout that book, Wolff sustained an encouraging and witty tone as he does in his latest book, YOUR CREATIVE WRITING MASTERCLASS.

The masterclass book comprises six parts. In Part I, Finding Inspiration, Wolff briefly quotes several master-writers including Faulkner, Marquez, and Nabokov: for example Nabokov recommends: "You have to saturate yourself with English poetry in order to compose English prose" (page 3). Wolff concludes with "From Advice to Action" -- a recurring feature in the book that greatly enhances it: use your camera to take "interesting visual images"; "jot down snatches of overheard conversation"; and fill in the gaps of your story idea by imagining your being interviewed and answering questions about "different aspects of the story."

Part II, Characters Come to Life, cites brief selections from Austen, Tolstoy, Chekhov, Kundera, and Welty among others. Wolff advises: using a questionnaire, interview your character (pages 40-42); using Maslow's hierarchy of needs, identify your characters' needs and wants (page 47-48); identify your own dark side by listing what "bothers you most about other people" and use these traits to "humanize" your characters (page 55); "cultivate the art of discreet eavesdropping (page 76); and "integrate the description of the setting" with characterization (page 86).

Part III, Shaping the Story, begins with an exposition of various points of view. Next, whether to plan or not to plan the story: planners cited include Edgar Allan Poe, PG Wodehouse. Wolff coins a new term "spontaneists" to describe writers who don't plan and cites Edward Albee and Stephen King among them. ("Spontaneists" sounds much better than "bottom-uppers" would have been as derived from the bottom-up/top-down typology.) Among the in-betweeners, he cites Paul Auster, Michael Chabon, and Amy Tan (pages 106-107).

Part IV, Finding Your Style, begins by noting that "there are some elements on which many of the master writers agree" such as clarity, conciseness, and evocative details.

Part V, The Process, cites master-writers like Mark Twain, James Thurber, and Joyce Carol Oates on their processes of writing. On dealing with dread, Alice Munro:"In writing, I've always had a lot of confidence, mixed with dread that the confidence is entirely misplaced. I think in way that my confidence came just from being dumb" (page 215). This from one of the very best contemporary short-story writers! And here's from one of the very best screenwriters, William Goldman: "I don't know how it is for others, but building up confidence is the single hardest battle I face every day of my life" (page 214).

In Part VI, The Writing Life, Wolff advises establishing a writing routine, rationing time for surfing the internet, and concludes: "Ultimately, the writers who are the happiest are the ones find joy in the process of writing and don't make their happiness contingent on being published, getting rave reviews, or basking in adoration from the reading public" (page 260).

This book is a masterly introduction to the creative writing craft.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Love it!, 9 Feb 2012
By 
GeeGee (London, UK) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Your Creative Writing Masterclass: featuring Austen, Chekhov, Dickens, Hemingway, Nabokov, Vonnegut, and more than 100 contemporary and classic ... novels, screenplays and short stories (Paperback)
As a new writer, I was looking for a book to inspire me and had been pretty disappointed until I found this gem. Humorous, warm and intelligent (without being patronising), it's also structured. Using examples from classic novels, it shows different methods of setting the scene, choosing a starting point, developing characters and plot and creating a good ending.

Other books I've read proscribe their own unique methodologies or formulae that you MUST follow in order to succeed. What is so fantastic about this book is that it shows me how "the Greats" did it and helps me look inside myself to come up with wonderful stories unique to me. I loved that chapter on viewing the difficulties in my own life as a gold mine for material.

The chapter "Defining Your Style" was really inspiring. Quotes from famous writers illustrate differing viewpoints that helped me free myself from fear that the way I choose to write might be "wrong".

At the end of each chapter is a section "From Advice to Action" with questions and exercises to apply the advice to your own work.

Part 6 gives a load of advice that I have never seen elsewhere - how to create the life of a professional writer. This covers the subjects of where & when to write, managing money, handling criticism, handling fame and success, confidence and structuring your day-to-day routine.

This really is a brilliant book - highly recommended.

Some of the quotes I loved:
-Oscar Wilde on productivity:
"I was working on the proof of one of my poems all the morning, and took out a comma. In the afternoon I put it back again."
-Chekhov on worry:
"You must once and for all give up being worried about success and failure. Don't let that concern you. It is your duty to go on working steadily day by day, quite steadily, to be prepared for mistakes, which are inevitable, and for failures."
-CS Lewis on adjectives:
"Don't say it was "delightful"; make us say "delightful" when we have read the description. All those words (horrifying, wonderful, hideous, exquisite) are only like saying to the reader "Please will you do my job for me?"."
-And Chekhov again:
"Don't tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass."
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent!, 27 Mar 2012
This review is from: Your Creative Writing Masterclass: featuring Austen, Chekhov, Dickens, Hemingway, Nabokov, Vonnegut, and more than 100 contemporary and classic ... novels, screenplays and short stories (Paperback)
An excellent collation of the advice of classic and contemporary writers, with Jurgen Wolff's comments too. Extremely useful for both beginning writers as well as those with some experience. If you write, or even if you're simply interested in the views of published writers, buy it!
I also highly recommend Jurgen's 'Your Writing Coach' and 'Creativity Now'.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Exceeded Expectations, 5 Feb 2012
By 
Mrs. D. Harrison (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Your Creative Writing Masterclass: featuring Austen, Chekhov, Dickens, Hemingway, Nabokov, Vonnegut, and more than 100 contemporary and classic ... novels, screenplays and short stories (Paperback)
This book has so much within its pages it's difficult to know where to start. There are inspirational, reassuring anecdotes and quotations plus real nuts and bolts advice on developing creativity within the writer (actually I think a lot of the advice translates to any creative endeavour).

I had feared it might just be a collection of other people's work but that's not the case. Examples are given but they are used to make a point. It's one of those books that you can read in just about any order, cherry picking the chapters most relevant to your needs.

As a budding and struggling writer this is one of the best books I have bought on the subject of writing. It's up there with Stephen King's 'On Writing' and Dorothea Brande's 'Becoming a Writer'. If you want to write, do write and want to be published, or are someone who enjoys reading, this book will bring you pleasure and also provide valuable insight into the writing process - soup to nuts.

Highly recommended.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars INVEST IN YOURSELF, 1 Mar 2012
This review is from: Your Creative Writing Masterclass: featuring Austen, Chekhov, Dickens, Hemingway, Nabokov, Vonnegut, and more than 100 contemporary and classic ... novels, screenplays and short stories (Paperback)
Your Creative Writing Masterclass isn't a gem of a book, it's a huge diamond of one. Invest in your writing career and buy this book for yourself.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Straight from the experts, 8 Feb 2012
By 
Rupert W (Sussex, England) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Your Creative Writing Masterclass: featuring Austen, Chekhov, Dickens, Hemingway, Nabokov, Vonnegut, and more than 100 contemporary and classic ... novels, screenplays and short stories (Paperback)
What's great about this book is there's no theory - it's all about the practice of writing and built around the words and experiences of well-known writers. They all faced issues every writer can identify with - getting inspired, getting started, developing characters and plots, finding a voice, keeping going, re-writing and polishing - and you hear from them how they approached these issues and overcame. It's a great format, easy to read, reassuring and instantly inspiring.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Made me think, 8 May 2013
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Lots of insight here. Well worth the money especially in the kindle version. Will have a look at his other offerings on Amazon.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating book, 30 April 2013
This review is from: Your Creative Writing Masterclass: featuring Austen, Chekhov, Dickens, Hemingway, Nabokov, Vonnegut, and more than 100 contemporary and classic ... novels, screenplays and short stories (Paperback)
There's plenty to say about how good this book is but if I said it I would mostly be repeating what's already written by other reviewers. The positive reviews cover so much. For myself, I found it a fascinating read because of the creative way it's put together. Like all Jurgen Wolff's work, it is thought through, innovative and never boring. I love the little cartoon portraits he adds here and there of famous authors - one example of many instances by which he lightens the book and engages the reader. Another is that working with it is like doing a workshop - there's lots of 'we', 'I', 'you. It speaks directly and straightforwardly and invites the reader into creative action. It is first class.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Very good. Inspirational, motivational and easy read!, 29 April 2013
This review is from: Your Creative Writing Masterclass: featuring Austen, Chekhov, Dickens, Hemingway, Nabokov, Vonnegut, and more than 100 contemporary and classic ... novels, screenplays and short stories (Paperback)
This book is a very good tool.

With brief chapters and notes from classic and modern authors it helps to put things into perspective by realising that YOU are going through the same things as all the big ones have been through. It helps with its exercises and helps you see that a lot of it, is actual common sense and good habits.

A very enjoyable read and especially helpful! I would recommend it to anyone working on creative writing projects and especially to those who feel at moments stranded, which means everyone.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Would heartily recommend that anyone with the urge to write reads this book first., 7 Jan 2013
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Very difficult to put down. In fact, I read it in one thoroughly enjoyable session. This is a rare book that anyone whose heart is in writing, especially novels, will return to, with the feeling of being close in soul to those born to write.
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