Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Review of Fiction Writer's Workshop by Josip Novakovich

Laid out in much the same format as a live workshop might be, Fiction Writer’s Workshop presents the fundamentals of ten basic elements of fiction writing. Croatian-born short story writer Josip Novakovich guides his students through the quest for inspiration, the actual mechanics of the craft, and finally ends with an excellent chapter on the art of revision.

His sections on setting, characters, plot, POV, and dialogue are well scripted, beginning with an overview of the subject and segueing into tips for practical application. Each chapter ends with a series of hands-on exercises.

The last four chapters—regarding beginnings and endings, description and word choice, voice, and revision—very nearly approach brilliance. Novakovich reveals in marvelous simplicity the inner workings of these most difficult aspects of fiction writing. Despite his tendency toward archaic literary examples (although perhaps he might be applauded for encouraging his readers, in doing so, to reach beyond commercial blockbusters) and the unimpressive excerpts from his own fiction, this is a stellar work.
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