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on 4 May 2012
I'm not a great believer in most how-to-write books but I've found The Art of Writing Fiction motivational and thought-provoking. It made me reflect on aspects of my writing I'd overlooked and hadn't realised I was struggling with. Many of the exercises had me reaching for my pen to try them out immediately.

The chapters on writer's routines, automatic writing, voices, viewpoints and structure engaged me the most -- but it's all excellent. In fact, as a creative writing teacher, I'm very tempted to plan future modules around this book.

Andrew Cowan's a literary novelist and the head of creative writing at the University of East Anglia, and his passion for and devotion to both writing and teaching come across strongly in this user-friendly, knowledgeable book. Anyone who reads The Art of Writing Fiction will feel in safe writerly hands. I recommend you get yourself a copy!
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on 6 March 2013
Having taught Creative Writing for many years to students at all levels, I am grateful to this book on several levels. Andrew Cowan has a knack for expressing exactly what you want to know next just as you form the desire. his prose is lucid, funny and to the point, while the exercises he outlines, the excerpts he chooses and the development of the book add up to a whole that teaches a course that is beneficial to anyone trying to write well.
Essential reading for every writer.
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on 7 March 2012
Andrew Cowan's book, The Art of Writing Fiction, is a fantastic addition to the canon of How To Write books. Engaging and thorough, it is very readable, and adds density and clarity to difficult topics, such as point of view in the chapter Viewpoints. Andrew makes good use of paragraphs form his own fiction, and shows clearly how to dramatise words that began life simply as notes and observations. For me, though, the best part of this book are the first 3 chapters which deal with that Dorothea Brande territory, the daily grind of becoming and being a writer. Many beginner writers feel that a story should come out fully formed in a single draft. Andrew shares his own habits and struggles, and encourages us all to, Try again. Fail again. Fail better.
If you only buy one How to Write book this year it should be this one.
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on 3 August 2017
One of the absolute best companions to writing fiction that I've come across, and the fruit of a writer's lifetime's thought and experience. An indispensable text for writers and creative writing tutors alike.
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on 20 April 2012
Andrew Cowan's `The Art of Writing Fiction' is a brilliant, stand-alone book when compared to the plethora of `How to Write' books out there. Not only does Cowan manage to give novice writers stellar advice on writing problems ranging from voice and point of view to the practicalities of learning to establish a disciplined writing regime, he also helps them navigate their way through many of the other famous `How to Write' books out there. The result is a wonderful compendium of Cowan's own expertise, other practitioner tips and a good number of highly engaging writing exercises. As Director of Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia, Cowan has guided hoards of new literary fiction writers towards the publication of their first novel. It's clear from this sharp, incisive book that the author knows what he's talking about. Well worth a read for aspiring literary novelists.
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on 5 August 2013
If you want to write fiction and devote time and energy to this amazing craft then get this book. It will help you and guide you with so much advice. I read many books on the topic and none of them comet this close.
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on 12 February 2015
Most creative writing guides seem to either ruminate on the nature of writing, or give practical advice in the form of writing exercises and detailed instruction. This does both exceptionally well.

Rather unusually for a creative writing guide, Andrew Cowan's advice is neither pretentious nor patronising. He simply brings the reader into a conversation about creative writing, and it's generally not until you close the book, and find yourself still mulling over his ideas, that the usefulness of his words becomes apparent.

One of the most valuable aspects of this book is its lack of aggression: Andrew Cowan's tone is suggestive, rather than insistent, and as a result the advice feels adaptable to each reader. There's no single way to write, after all – and this book is exceptionally respectful of this rule.

This book is so encouraging: when I had finished it I really felt that I could write a novel, and that I wasn't foolish for trying. It's easy to feel daunted by the prospect of starting a writing project, but this book is guaranteed to make the task seem both magical and achievable.
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on 24 November 2011
I have bought dozens of how to books on writing over the years. This is the best and most concise one I have read to date. Mr Cowan waxes lyrical
about the nuts and bolts of writing in an unpatronising easy to understand style, unlike a lot of books whose authors seem to despise their readers for wishing to improve their craft. With this book along with a copy of John Gardner's on becoming a novelist On Becoming a Novelist and Flannery O'connor's collection of short stories, Complete Stories you're all set to write that best seller. Ten stars to Andrew Cowan. Here is an author who knows his subject matter. I won't be buying any more how to books for a long while yet.
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on 19 February 2016
I bought this for my wife to help her with her writing course and she was over the moon. From what she has said it has been very helpful.
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on 26 March 2014
Really useful, deep-thinking and reflective - quality work, thorough and serious. I find it really makes me think and no waffle. Grand.
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