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Customer reviews

5.0 out of 5 stars

on 18 September 2011
This book is a must for all creative writers. Why? Because it isn't the usual "how-to", "do this", "don't do this". Linda Acaster has crafted a help book with a difference and a bonus. The difference is that she explains her own thinking, motivation, what, why etc of short fiction. The bonus is that each section is accompanied by one of her short stories to illustrate exactly how she came to write it, why she made the character who he/she is and what drives the story. Her thinking on characterisation is especially enlightening. As a crime writer, I write mainly plot-driven stories. Linda's book has made me see the vital importance of characterisation. I now understand why some of mine seem to have a life of their own and others are not as satisfactory as they might be. Whatever level of creative writing you have reached, "Reading a Writer's Mind" will enhance your work. I recommend it.
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on 4 June 2013
This insightful, refreshingly honest and most enjoyable book is a must-have for both aspiring and published authors.

The nature of this book and its many merits are well described by other reviewers on this site. What I would like to say in addition is that I am most impressed by the way the author juxtaposes her reflections and advice on writing with actual examples of her own work in a number of genres. Not only does she offer us some excellent, intriguing examples of story writing, she also has the courage to criticise her own work and demonstrate to the reader how it might be improved - thus giving the reader a valuable opportunity to learn about the editing process at first hand.

The author's style and narrative voice when discussing writing are quietly authoritative, yet never patronizing - no mean feat with a *how-to* book. And thus the advice offered comes across as stimulating rather than daunting.

The short stories are nicely constructed with believable characters and some canny plotting. They offer very sound models on how to write in different genres and in my view will inspire writers who have previously stuck to one genre, to pluck up the courage to have a go at trying something new. They will surely benefit from branching out; both in personal satisfaction and in increasing their chances of successful publication.

I found the list of contents at the start of the text very clear and helpful. I
think it is particularly useful to know the differing word lengths of the stories at the start of reading. So-called short stories come in a wide range of lengths and I feel it helps enjoyment if you know from the start whether a story is going to be short and snappy or longer and requiring more time to develop.

I'm going to end with a cliché, but it is one which is most appropriate regarding this book. Highly recommended.
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on 27 September 2014
Absolutely fascinating!

I'm no writer but I do have an enquiring mind. This book is easily accessible to those who read casually and, much like a magician showing how a trick is performed, shows some of the thinking behind words, phrases and viewpoint.

There is so much more thought, design and intent behind the writing of a story that my "reading for half an hour at bedtime" simply hadn't appreciated. I won't be looking at stories, short or long, in the same way again.

Thank you!
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on 24 June 2012
This is one of the best books I have read on writing. The author gives examples of short stories and then expalins how the story was put together. A great help. I would recommend it to anyone wanting to write
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on 16 September 2011
Writing manuals come in many guises. Linda Acaster's 'Reading A Writer's Mind: Exploring Short Fiction - First Thought to Finished Story', if you'll forgive the reference, does what it says on the tin.
If you're a reader, you'll find this book worthwhile and entertaining simply for the stories it presents for examination by writers. The fiction is varied in genre and style but consistent in its good quality. Even the stories specifically written for the 'women's fiction market' are well structured and populated by rounded characters who will be familiar to most readers.
If you're a writer, this is a book that will help develop your short fiction. The sample stories illustrate the author's points perfectly as she explains her reasons for the various selections a writer must make as a piece of short fiction is constructed. Here you'll find advice on character forming and building, plot structure, language choice, viewpoint selection and much more. Linda introduces each story, and then presents it for reading in full. She follows this with an explanation of the processes she used in the construction. Finally, she sets the reader an exercise in order to consolidate and fully bed in the lesson of the section.
Most writers are resistant to exercises: I certainly am. However, as with the excellent suggestions made by Dorothea Brande in her 'Becoming a Writer', Linda's practice pieces are designed to make the reader a better writer and will pay dividends to those who attempt them.
I'm not a lover of writing manuals, but I place this one alongside the excellent Dorothea Brande's book, already mentioned, and Stephen King's 'On Writing', both of which have been formative in my writing.
Linda Acaster's concise but comprehensive work on approaching short fiction now has a permanent place in my library and I shall return to it each time I begin a new short story, in the hope that I can improve on my skills and reach the market I am aiming at.
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on 27 May 2013
This is a very useful guide, whether you are just starting out on your writing journey or wish to explore your work more deeply. I found it fascinating and the exercises are handy writing prompts. Whatever your preferred genres of fiction, Linda Acaster's insightful analysis of markets and how to write for those markets gives practical help and useful tips. The stories she uses as examples are great, too!
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