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Library JournalThis book thoroughly dissects the basic building block of creative writing: the scene. Building on his own experience as an author of more than 30 fiction and nonfiction books, Conrad (founder & director, Santa Barbara Writer's Conference; Matador) analyzes scenes from works of literature by such luminaries as John Steinbeck, Ernest Hemingway, Mark Twain, and Noel Coward, explaining how each scene "works." In the first chapter, he spells out exactly what constitutes a scene; two other chapters focus on specialized scenes for beginnings and endings. Most of the book is arranged topically, with analysis of scenes used for such purposes as action, romance, revenge, betrayal, humor, and horror. This is one of the best self-help books for creative writers to have hit the market in a while. With its plethora of quoted material from great authors and Conrad's own entertaining and accessible writing style, it will hold the attention of general readers—even those not aspiring to write the next great American novel. Highly recommended for public libraries and for academic libraries serving creative-writing programs.
—Alison M. Lewis