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on 15 September 2009
This book is recommended reading for the Advanced Creative Writing course that the Open University currently run, and after a few pages reading through, you can see why. It's an absolute treasure trove of well explained information about techniques of fiction.

There are three sections and the first deals with narrative. Raban talks about tense and 1st and 2nd person narration, and the impact it has on the reader and character. He talks about the technical points of points of view (like memoirs), about moving it around from character to character, and using different tones. He talks about stream of consiousness/vernacular narrative, the use of different 'people' within characters, time & place impacting on character and story, syntax and logical developments.

And he hasn't even started on character, which is the second section. Here he talks about dialogue changes in certain situations and presences on the page, stereotypes and subject specific language (medical, legal, sports), values and mythology of characters especially in a historic or religious setting, the nature of location, settings, consistencies and similarities. There's a section on the submerged form that I found fascinating.

The final section 'Style and Language' is more of a mish-mash- the previous sections are more essay like with arguments and examples, and these sections are more like discussions. I found less valuable information in here. It does talk about lanuguage and dialects and goes back to syntax.

I was worried, when I bought it, that it might be dated. But it's not. The examples it chooses are classic novels, from Bronte to Salinger. His language isn't too academical at all. However I'd recommend to anyone studying literature and creative writing, because the quotes you'll be able to get from this book will be invaluable. The examples he gives will give you support. I'd also recommend Revision: A Creative Approach to Writing and Rewriting Fiction for other creative writing enthusiasts out there.

Last of all, no, it's not about coastal science!
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on 24 March 2009
No matter what it says above this book is NOT about applied coastal science. It is a literature/writing source book made up of a series of essays in practical criticism. It is arranged in three main sections('Narrative', 'Character' and 'Style and Language')each of which cover five specific topics in a chapter each, such as the chapter on Irony in Fiction in the last section, for example.Each chapter has an extract from a well-known novel or short story, followed by critical discussion and examination of fictional technique. The examples given are from English and American authors such as Saul Bellow or Iris Murdoch. The book also has an extensive bibliography for its size. A bit dense and old fashioned, hence the one star, but plenty of interesting issues raised, nonetheless.
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on 12 April 2015
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