Stein on Writing: A Master Editor of Some of the Most Successful Writers of Our Century Shares His Craft Techniques and Strategies

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Overview

Stein on Writing provides immediately useful advice for all writers of fiction and nonfiction, whether they are newcomers or old hands, students or instructors, amateurs or professionals. As the always clear and direct Stein explains here, "This is not a book of theory. It is a book of usable solutions—how to fix writing that is flawed, how to improve writing that is good, how to create interesting writing in the first place." With examples from bestsellers as well as from students' drafts, Stein offers detailed ...

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Stein On Writing: A Master Editor of Some of the Most Successful Writers of Our Century Shares His Craft Techniques and Strategies

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Overview

Stein on Writing provides immediately useful advice for all writers of fiction and nonfiction, whether they are newcomers or old hands, students or instructors, amateurs or professionals. As the always clear and direct Stein explains here, "This is not a book of theory. It is a book of usable solutions—how to fix writing that is flawed, how to improve writing that is good, how to create interesting writing in the first place." With examples from bestsellers as well as from students' drafts, Stein offers detailed sections on characterization, dialogue, pacing, flashbacks, trimming away flabby wording, the so-called "triage" method of revision, using the techniques of fiction to enliven nonfiction, and more.

Professional secrets from a renowned editor, prize-winning author, and award-winning instructor make this the number one practical choice for fiction and nonfiction writers of all levels of experience. "Stein is a magnetic teacher."--Barnaby Conrad, Director, Santa Barbara Writer's Conference.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"The best book on writing that I have read . . . The tips, shortcuts, and plentiful examples of good writing versus bad cannot fail to every writer, no matter at what stage he finds himself."—Barnaby Conrad, author of Matador and Learning to Write Fiction from the Masters

"Stimulating . . . Offers a banquet of savvy advice. Unlike Anne Lamott, et al., Stein aims not to help his readers wrestle with writerly anguish; rather, he gets on the page, citing examples from writers famous and fledgling, closely analyzing first sentences, creation of character, plotting, and dialogue . . . Stein concentrates more on fiction—point of view and the creation of love scenes—but his advice on such issues as self-editing and choosing a title applies also to nonfiction. A section on nonfiction contains worthy remarks about adapting fictional techniques (suspense, visual particularity, etc.)."—Publishers Weekly

"This book can jump-start anyone's creativity. Highly recommended for all writing collections."—Library Journal

"My publisher Sol Stein was my producer, and editor Sol Stein was my director. Stein saw what I didn't think possible."—Elia Kazan

"[Stein] went over my manuscript with an ifallible eye for the soft spots in my prose, giving me one of the best editorial readinds I've ever had."—Lionel Trilling

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In this stimulating guide, a veteran novelist (The Magician), editor (Stein & Day) and teacher offers a banquet of savvy advice. Unlike Anne Lamott et al., Stein aims not to help his readers wrestle with writerly anguish; rather, he gets on the page, citing examples from writers famous and fledgling, closely analyzing first sentences, creation of character, plotting and dialogue (use ``speech markers'' to differentiate among characters). Stein concentrates more on fiction-point of view and the creation of love scenes-but his advice on such issues as self-editing and choosing a title applies also to nonfiction. A section on nonfiction contains worthy remarks about adapting fictional techniques (suspense, visual particularity, etc.) but is too brief to be a full guide to journalistic writing or producing an account of a historic event. (Dec.)
Library Journal
Writing tips from novelist (e.g., Best Revenge, LJ 7/91) and editor Stein.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780312254216
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press
  • Publication date: 1/28/2000
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 308
  • Sales rank: 197,618
  • Product dimensions: 6.36 (w) x 9.14 (h) x 0.91 (d)

Meet the Author

Sol Stein is the author of several novels, including the million-copy bestseller The Magician. As an editor, his authors included James Baldwin, Jack Higgins, and many others. Stein has lectured widely on creative writing, and was given the Distinguished Instructor Award by the University of California at Irvine in 1993. His columns appear regularly on America Online and elsewhere.

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Table of Contents

Preface xi
Part I The Essentials
Chapter 1 The Writer's Job May Be Different Than You Think 3
Chapter 2 Come Right In: First Sentences, First Paragraphs 15
Chapter 3 Welcome to the Twentieth Century 42
Part II Fiction
Chapter 4 Competing with God: Making Fascinating People 49
Chapter 5 Markers: The Key to Swift Characterization 74
Chapter 6 Thwarting Desire: The Basics of Plotting 82
Chapter 7 The Actors Studio Method for Developing Drama in Plots 90
Chapter 8 The Crucible: A Key to Successful Plotting 94
Chapter 9 Suspense: Keeping the Reader Reading 97
Chapter 10 The Adrenaline Pump: Creating Tension 105
Chapter 11 The Secrets of Good Dialogue 110
Chapter 12 How to Show Instead of Tell 122
Chapter 13 Choosing a Point of View 129
Chapter 14 Flashbacks: How to Bring Background into the Foreground 143
Chapter 15 The Keys to Credibility 152
Chapter 16 The Secret Snapshot Technique: Reaching For Hidden Treasure 156
Chapter 17 How to Use All Six of Your Senses 160
Chapter 18 Love Scenes 167
Chapter 19 Creating the Envelope 186
Part III Fiction and Nonfiction
Chapter 20 Amphetamines for Speeding Up Pace 193
Chapter 21 Liposuctioning Flab 197
Chapter 22 Tapping Your Originality 209
Chapter 23 The Door to Your Book: Titles That Attract 212
Part IV Nonfiction
Chapter 24 Using the Techniques of Fiction to Enhance Nonfiction 223
Chapter 25 Conflict, Suspense, and Tension in Nonfiction 232
Chapter 26 Quoting What They Say 240
Chapter 27 Guts: The Decisive Ingredient 242
Part V Literary Values in Fiction and Nonfiction
Chapter 28 Commercial? Popular? Literary? 249
Chapter 29 Particularity 254
Chapter 30 Similes and Metaphors 264
Chapter 31 Increasing the Effect on the Reader through Resonance 268
Part VI Revision
Chapter 32 Triage: A Better Way of Revising Fiction 277
Chapter 33 Reprieve: Revising Nonfiction 290
Part VII Where to Get Help
Chapter 34 Where to Get Help 297
Chapter 35 A Final Word 302
A Glossary of Terms Used by Writers and Editors 305
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 7 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 7 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 5, 2014

    Best of the Best

    I avoided this book for some time based on several of the negative reviews. WHAT A MISTAKE. This is by far the best book I've read, and I've read most of them. The reason? Show, don't tell. Many writing books tell you what you should do or what you should avoid. They will have some examples, but the emphasis is telling.
    Stein shows. He has more examples per inch of text than any other, and they are good examples. Excellent examples. Yes, he does tell, but that is usually just so you better understand the examples and know the takeaway.
    Do yourself a favor and IGNORE those reviews that complain that he is full of himself. I suspect the authors of those are simply a bit insecure. And indeed, don't buy this book if you think that John Grisham is the epitome of literary excellence. But do buy it if you aspire to become a master author of either fiction or non-fiction. You will not regret it.

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  • Posted June 11, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Detail and Insight into the Craft of Writing

    I am in the middle of writing my first novel, and I must express that this book is my number one reference. Mr. Stein has a wealth of knowledge to share with writers of every craft and ability. I look forward to using this as the textbook in a creative writing class I hope to teach in the fall and beyond because I find it that deft and comprehensive. Currently, Stein of Writing is laden with my notes and priorities, and with it, I hope that one day my novel is on this website, collecting friendly reader comments.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 6, 2007

    Not much there

    I was really looking for help with the process of creation, not criteria for critiquing a written work. The book contains pretty shallow advice you probably already know, like the helpful tips you often find in magazine articles, but not much new information about the process of turning ideas into stories. The know-it-all tone of the book is slightly annoying, but that would not bother me if the book were more helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 26, 2003

    Helpful Advice

    Helpful advice primarily for writers already with at least some experience but also useful for the novice or professional. Explanations are generally good, but some pointers are stated without any explanation at all. I do not like his style: he seems to think he has all the answers. Still, for anyone sincerely interested in improving their writing, this book is worth having.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 23, 2003

    The ONLY writing book you need

    If you want to write fiction, Sol Stein's books are the only ones you need to invest your time and hard-earned money in. Stein tells you the basics to good writing, and shows you how to do it by giving examples of good and bad writing, and explains the difference. If you want to be a writer, get this book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 29, 2001

    Excellent on Writing Fiction

    I found it helpful and fun to read. The theory was clear and the examples were well chosen. Not boring.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 30, 2008

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing all of 7 Customer Reviews

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