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Gotham Writers' Workshop: Writing Fiction: The Practical Guide From New York's Acclaimed Creative Writing School

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Gotham Writers' Workshop has mastered the art of teaching the craft of writing in a way that is practical, accessible, and entertaining. Now the techniques of this renowned school are available in this book. Here you'll find: The fundamental elements of fiction craft—character, plot, point of view, etc.—explained clearly and completely - Key concepts illustrated with passag Gotham Writers' Workshop has mastered the art of teaching the craft of writing in a way that is practical, accessible, and entertaining. Now the techniques of this renowned school are available in this book. Here you'll find: The fundamental elements of fiction craft—character, plot, point of view, etc.—explained clearly and completely - Key concepts illustrated with passages from great works of fiction - The complete text of "Cathedral" by Raymond Carver—a masterpiece of contemporary short fiction that is analyzed throughout the book - Exercises that let you immediately apply what you learn to your own writing. Written by Gotham Writers' Workshop expert instructors and edited by Dean of Faculty Alexander Steele, Writing Fiction offers the same methods and exercises that have earned the school international acclaim. Once you've read—and written—your way through this book, you'll have a command of craft that will enable you to turn your ideas into effective short stories and novels. You will be a writer. Gotham Writers' Workshop is America's leading private creative writing school, offering classes in New York City and on the web at WritingClasses.com. The school's interactive online classes, selected "Best of the Web" by Forbes, have attracted thousands of aspiring writers from across the United States and more than sixty countries.


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Gotham Writers' Workshop has mastered the art of teaching the craft of writing in a way that is practical, accessible, and entertaining. Now the techniques of this renowned school are available in this book. Here you'll find: The fundamental elements of fiction craft—character, plot, point of view, etc.—explained clearly and completely - Key concepts illustrated with passag Gotham Writers' Workshop has mastered the art of teaching the craft of writing in a way that is practical, accessible, and entertaining. Now the techniques of this renowned school are available in this book. Here you'll find: The fundamental elements of fiction craft—character, plot, point of view, etc.—explained clearly and completely - Key concepts illustrated with passages from great works of fiction - The complete text of "Cathedral" by Raymond Carver—a masterpiece of contemporary short fiction that is analyzed throughout the book - Exercises that let you immediately apply what you learn to your own writing. Written by Gotham Writers' Workshop expert instructors and edited by Dean of Faculty Alexander Steele, Writing Fiction offers the same methods and exercises that have earned the school international acclaim. Once you've read—and written—your way through this book, you'll have a command of craft that will enable you to turn your ideas into effective short stories and novels. You will be a writer. Gotham Writers' Workshop is America's leading private creative writing school, offering classes in New York City and on the web at WritingClasses.com. The school's interactive online classes, selected "Best of the Web" by Forbes, have attracted thousands of aspiring writers from across the United States and more than sixty countries.

30 review for Gotham Writers' Workshop: Writing Fiction: The Practical Guide From New York's Acclaimed Creative Writing School

  1. 5 out of 5

    LAnn

    When I expected a book for writing, I expected a long list of tedious grammar rules and endless lectures about good versus bad, great versus crap, good versus evil - the writing guide cliches. Instead, this writer's guide touches on anything and anything there really is about writing, from characters to story to plot development to publishing. Even formatting a manuscript can be found hidden in these pages. This writer's guide takes the reader from the normal typed nonsense of a guide with no bre When I expected a book for writing, I expected a long list of tedious grammar rules and endless lectures about good versus bad, great versus crap, good versus evil - the writing guide cliches. Instead, this writer's guide touches on anything and anything there really is about writing, from characters to story to plot development to publishing. Even formatting a manuscript can be found hidden in these pages. This writer's guide takes the reader from the normal typed nonsense of a guide with no breaks but the one the reader takes to a list of short lessons and numerous exercises that the reader can take on their own. Exercises that push the reader's imagination, as well as making the reader more practical towards the industry. It warns against the cliches of the writing word, as well as the dangers of fake agents. Really, it has it all. One of the more positive notes of this book is that the entire thing isn't written by one person. Certainly a guide for all things writing can't be written by one person. There's no "master" of the industry. No one is perfect about everything. Almost each new chapter was brought by a different writer who seemed to have wonderful insight into the topic they were discussing. Each one brought their own background to the table and not only made the book more enjoyable, but actually made certain lessons easier to understand. The only place the guide fell short was the extreme number of exercises, actually. I found myself drifting away from the book more and more as time passed, not because I wasn't interested, but rather there seemed to be an exercise per page in several parts of the book. I'm all for a hands on approach to learning, but several of the exercises seemed like copies of others, or unneeded from the layout of the book. Overall, this writer's guide is one of the best I've read. Every writer needs to have it.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Holly

    This book is wonderful. It's filled with so much useful information. I found it very unique that each chapter was written by a different person. It has everything; from characters, to setting, to finding a voice. Maybe the most helpful chapter of all is the last one. It gives you tips on everything from magazines that publish short stories, to finding an agent. It even gives you sample query letters for both short story and a novel. Throughout the book there are also exercises you can do to pract This book is wonderful. It's filled with so much useful information. I found it very unique that each chapter was written by a different person. It has everything; from characters, to setting, to finding a voice. Maybe the most helpful chapter of all is the last one. It gives you tips on everything from magazines that publish short stories, to finding an agent. It even gives you sample query letters for both short story and a novel. Throughout the book there are also exercises you can do to practice what you've learned. A great read; very helpful. Highly recommended to all the writers out there! (Who haven't read it, of course! :-))

  3. 4 out of 5

    Jay The Crippled God

    This book was the main reference and complementary resource for my "Fiction-I" Gotham writers' writing workshop and it shall forever be a reference in reading about writing

  4. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca Graf

    If you want to be a writer, you need to realize that there is a certain degree of having the gift of writing and a certain amount of knowledge that needs to be learned. The part you learn helps you fine tune the gift and improve what you are already good at. Gotham Writer’s Workshop: Writing Fiction is a book to do just that. This is a non-fiction book that is designed to help you as a writer improve on your art. Chapters cover characters, plots, descriptions, dialogue, setting, voice, pace, them If you want to be a writer, you need to realize that there is a certain degree of having the gift of writing and a certain amount of knowledge that needs to be learned. The part you learn helps you fine tune the gift and improve what you are already good at. Gotham Writer’s Workshop: Writing Fiction is a book to do just that. This is a non-fiction book that is designed to help you as a writer improve on your art. Chapters cover characters, plots, descriptions, dialogue, setting, voice, pace, theme and drafts. It is full of suggestions, tips, exercises, and experience as well as a writer’s cheat sheet. I found myself highlighting quite a bit of it and marking pages to reference later. Each chapter is written by a different writer who gives you their experience in that particular area. I loved how the writers were honest on what they did wrong as a new writer and what they are still learning. It gives a new writer hope. There is nothing useless on any of the pages. Everything said is so helpful and can be used. This is a book you’ll find yourself going back to and referencing many times if you are a serious writer. When you get this book, make sure you have pencil and highlighter ready to go. You might even want a notebook to work on the exercises. This would be a great book for a writing club to read and discuss. Note: This book was purchased with my own funds.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Charlotte Burt

    I may have finished reading this from cover to cover but I doubt I will truly be finished with the exercises for many years. It is a complete guide to writing fiction of any length, and as a bonus, you get the wonderful short story by Raymond Carver, Cathedral which is referred to many times in the text. The version I read was published in 2003 and didn't mention self-publishing e-books at all. It is understandably is very US-centric. Overall a useful book to an aspiring author.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Madhuri

    Excellent guide to writing fiction. The exercises in this book may make it seem extreme but this is the exact approach one needs to get started somewhere. This is one book that I will be referring to again and again.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Salem Lorot

    Great tips on writing fiction. When I have my first draft, these are the kinds of helpful lessons to put into practice.

  8. 5 out of 5

    محمد

    Table of Contents 1. Fiction: The What, How, and Why of It, by Alexander Steele 2. Character: Casting Shadows, by Brandi Reissenweber 3. Plot: A Question of Focus, by David Harris Ebenbach 4. Point of View: The Complete Menu, by Valerie Vogrin 5. Description: To Picture in Words, by Chris Lombardi 6. Dialogue: Talking It Up, by Allison Amend 7. Setting and Pacing: 8. Voice: The Sound of a Story, by Hardy Griffin 9. Theme: So What's Your Story Really About?, by Terry Bain 10. Revision: Real Writers Revis Table of Contents 1. Fiction: The What, How, and Why of It, by Alexander Steele 2. Character: Casting Shadows, by Brandi Reissenweber 3. Plot: A Question of Focus, by David Harris Ebenbach 4. Point of View: The Complete Menu, by Valerie Vogrin 5. Description: To Picture in Words, by Chris Lombardi 6. Dialogue: Talking It Up, by Allison Amend 7. Setting and Pacing: 8. Voice: The Sound of a Story, by Hardy Griffin 9. Theme: So What's Your Story Really About?, by Terry Bain 10. Revision: Real Writers Revise, by Peter Selgin 11. The Business of Writing: Driving Yourself Nuts For Fun and Profit, by Corene Lemaitre 12. Sample Writing Exercises: Your Turn ------------ أصل الكتاب عبارة عن أوراق عمل قدمت في إحدى حلقات الكتابة. الفصل الأول تحدث عن مفهوم الرواية والفرق بينها وبين القصة والنوفيلا. ولماذا يحتاج الإنسان لهذه الأنواع السردية :"يبدو أننا نحتاج الخيال كحاجتنا للماء والغذاء والصداقة". ولذلك سببين: الأول حاجتنا إلى الترفيه والرواية تحقق ذلك. الثاني "فضولنا للبحث عن المعنى؛عن سبب وجودنا. والبعض يسميه البحث عن الحقيقة. "إحدى متع قراءة الأدب السردي هي الحصول على مشاهد مختلسة من حياة الآخرين.الذين لم نلتق بهم من قبل؛لكنا نشاهدهم عبر شاشات التلفاز وعند آلات صرافة النقود.وهذا أشبه مايكون بسرقة لمحة،من النافذة لشخص عار؛ أو سماع صوت مرتفع لجدال عاشقين في مطعم _2_ وجهة النظر التي يختارها الكاتب لقصته أو روايته تؤثر على طريقة استقبال القارئ وعاطفته ، كما تؤثر على بقية عناصر القطعة الأدبية مثل : الأسلوب و الفكرة الرئيسية . _3 أحد الأسباب التي تجعل القارئ يواصل القراءة هو التشويق الذيَّ يُحدثه السؤال العام ويكون في غاية الإثارة ، نحن بحاجةٍ إلى معرفة ماذا " ستكون الإجابة في النهاية " 4 دائماً ، يجب عليك أن تتحدى نفسك لتجد أفضل الكلمات التي تنقل بها الصورة التي في ذهنك وغالباً ما تأتي إليك الكلمات في شكلها الفطري الخام ، من الأفضل أن تتركها كما هي لأنك في مرحلة المسوَّدة الأولى ، ولكن في مرحلةٍ ما لاحقة ستبحث عن أفضل الكلمات والعبارات التي ترسم بها الخيال السحري لقصتك . _5_ إن الإمساك بصوت الحوار كما هو في الواقع ، ليس كافياً، بل حقيقة الحوار الجيد هو أن يكون شيئاً من الخيال والوهم والنسيج الكاذب، قرَّاء القصص والروايات يتوقعون أن تكون الحوارات في الروايات مغايرة عن الحوارات في الواقع. الحوار القصصي يجب أن يحتوي على الكثير من التأثير والأهمية أكثر من حوارات الحياة العادية . الحقيقة أن معظم حوارات الحياة العادية مملَّة ، وحين تكتب على الورق تبقى باهتة ، حاول أن تدَّون محادثة سمعتها أو شريط مسجل . إنها غالباً بلا معنى . _6_ معظم الناس يستخدمون مصطلح الصوت والأسلوب بنفس المعنى ولكن هناك فرق كبير بين الاثنين الأسلوب يتكون من عدة خيارات فنية اتخذها الكاتب بينما الصوت هو نتيجة تلك الخيارات، فإذا كان الصوت هو اللباس المخملي فإن الأسلوب يتكون من عدة مكونات /تقنيات : الأقمشة ، الخيوط، الأزرار، وكل ذلك يصنع الملابس. _7_ فيما يتعلق بالموضوع ، فقد يكون عن التضخم المالي العالمي ، دون الحاجة إلى إيجاد حل جذري للتضخم ولا حتى طرح وجهة نظر شخصية حول الموضوع ، إذاً كما ترى أنت خارج المسؤولية ، ليس من واجبك تأليف الموضوعات التي من شأنها حل مشكلات العالم ، عليك فقط أن تسلط الضوء على بعض الجوانب من الحياة و تدع القارئ يرى ماذا حدث هناك . _8_ القارئ لا يخلو من الوقاحة ، فقد يتوقف عن قراءة كتابك في المنتصف ، ولا يعود للقراءة مرةً أُخرى، ولايلزمه أي اعتذار. ولأنه يحمل كل الخيارات ، فليس لديه أي التزام نحو الكاتب ، بينما الكاتب لديه إلتزام نحو كل القرَّاء ، ولهذا السبب تجد الكتَّاب يظهرون صرامة وقساوة أثناء مراجعة رواياتهم حتى يصلون إلى الشكل النهائي . لديك الوقت الكافي لمراجعة كل كلمة و كل جملة في روايتك / قصتك ، مثل قاضي الإعدام الذي يصنع حبل المشنقة من قلم رصاصٍ حاد . لا مجال للرحمة هنا ، وكما قيل " الأصابع التي لم تتوقف عن النزيف من الأفضل قطعها وليس معالجتها " لذلك يجب أن تمرر مشرطك الرصاص عبر كل كلمة وكل سطر في روايتك .

  9. 4 out of 5

    Phil Giunta

    After publishing my first novel, I wanted to achieve a deeper understanding of writing fiction. You never stop learning, no matter your stature as a writer. This book is very informative and has helped to make the outline and first draft of my second novel much stronger. There are wonderful exercises and great explanations and examples for such topics as character, dialogue, POV, plot, story and the sometime nebulous theme. I would recommend this book as invaluable asset to all those looking to After publishing my first novel, I wanted to achieve a deeper understanding of writing fiction. You never stop learning, no matter your stature as a writer. This book is very informative and has helped to make the outline and first draft of my second novel much stronger. There are wonderful exercises and great explanations and examples for such topics as character, dialogue, POV, plot, story and the sometime nebulous theme. I would recommend this book as invaluable asset to all those looking to break into fiction writing.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Nascha

    It took me awhile to actually sit down and read this book from beginning to end. Oh, I started it a few times, but I think I was overwhelmed by the wealth of advice it gives and at the time I was procrastinating on some of the stuff I'd been writing. Nevertheless, I was very pleased with this book. I think it's an excellent guide to the nuts and bolts of writing fiction. It's definitely a book I'll be returning to again and again. I highly recommend it.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Dee Waite

    I think out of all of my self-help books on writing, this has to be the most treasured. This book just works for me. I love the simple approach, explanations, examples, and advice. It all makes sense to me when I read this book - so, as you can guess, I read it often. I've only had it about three months, but it already looks like it's at least two years old and used regularly. You can't go wrong here.

  12. 5 out of 5

    MB

    Every once in a while, I'll pull this out and reread all or part of it. It gets me into a writing mode, and it broadens my creative thinking. I really like the non-stuffy tone it's written in, and it's one of those books I can pick up, turn to a random page and find a little gem of information or an exercise that I need at the moment.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Brock Books

    OK Boomers, a new cover won't hide that outdated dialogue chapter. The examples in this book are every disappointing novel they try to force on teens. I can't recommend the examples, so I can't recommend the book. Dated POV terminology. If LitFic is for you, you might enjoy this antique. SpecFic should steer clear.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Mia

    Rating: 2 stars This was pretty entertaining and had some interesting writerly insight, but otherwise just elaborated on very basic (often outdated) writing advice. I pretty much knew everything this book had to say beforehand. There are much better fiction writing guides out there.

  15. 5 out of 5

    John

    I hated this book. We used it as a textbook for a writing class. I would have rather had a real textbook. I think I used some of the pages as toilet paper when I ran out one time.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Brian

    A series of essays written by people with solid experience. For a new writer, this could be useful but most of the information can be found in dozens of other places. Very little that was new.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Jeff Van Valer

    I've been writing for a long time. For almost all that time, I've wondered what was wrong with what I produced. In high school, we heard things like, "You have to know the rules of writing before you're allowed to break them." The advice was patently unhelpful. I knew about split infinitives, prepositions at the ends of sentences, run-ons and fragments. But still, anything and everything about style, structure, and meaning in my writing was wrong. It did more telling than showing. It incriminate I've been writing for a long time. For almost all that time, I've wondered what was wrong with what I produced. In high school, we heard things like, "You have to know the rules of writing before you're allowed to break them." The advice was patently unhelpful. I knew about split infinitives, prepositions at the ends of sentences, run-ons and fragments. But still, anything and everything about style, structure, and meaning in my writing was wrong. It did more telling than showing. It incriminated my lack of understanding of point-of-view or how to wrangle the story into a "thematic vessel." GWW paid good service to such nebulous ideas. And believe it or not, one of the best things GWW taught me is that first drafts are supposed to be bad. They're supposed to be embarrassing. They're supposed to be something you're not willing to share. At the end of this book, it was clear you have to understand the rules of writing before you can break them. And so you don't break the ones that can't be broken. By the way: this thing is so readable and attention-grabbing. It is full of examples from literature we may or may not know. It even provides a short story at the end, "Cathedral," by Raymond Carver. "Cathedral" puts on a veritable clinic on fiction writing. A must-read for anyone who wants to write.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Ben

    Good summary of writing fiction with many strong examples. It covers all bases, but the section regarding publishing is perhaps a little outdated with so many online avenues these days. I didn't do any of the exercises, but they probably help the learning process. Most of the examples are from a short story, The Cathedral, but there are other stories mixed in with appropriate context. Each example's relevance to the teachings is explained with concise language. There is a lot of data in the book, Good summary of writing fiction with many strong examples. It covers all bases, but the section regarding publishing is perhaps a little outdated with so many online avenues these days. I didn't do any of the exercises, but they probably help the learning process. Most of the examples are from a short story, The Cathedral, but there are other stories mixed in with appropriate context. Each example's relevance to the teachings is explained with concise language. There is a lot of data in the book, so its probably worth reading a few times. If you already have taken a creative writing course, then you probably know most of it anyway. This is a good summary book for those that are just diving into writing fiction or want to get a broad overview of things they've already studied. The only section that didn't seem conclusive was the one on voice. It danced around ideas of voice being such a great thing and then saying that comes from POV / characters / narrator in a weird mix. Voice is so nebulous that it possibly could have been removed from the book.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Nev March

    This is a how-to-do-it book that engages, doesn't talk down, and is chock full of useful information. Each chapter is written by a notable writer, and leverages writing from great books as examples. I found myself adding many of these names to my reading list! The content is spot on: great chapters on character, dialog, plot, theme, setting, language/style and more. Note: The older edition has some advice on querying that is no longer relevant in today's digital industry. However the material on This is a how-to-do-it book that engages, doesn't talk down, and is chock full of useful information. Each chapter is written by a notable writer, and leverages writing from great books as examples. I found myself adding many of these names to my reading list! The content is spot on: great chapters on character, dialog, plot, theme, setting, language/style and more. Note: The older edition has some advice on querying that is no longer relevant in today's digital industry. However the material on writing craft is eternal. I took a while to finish this book because I did EVERY exercise, often feeling that I was on my one-woman do-it-yourself MFA. Many of the exercises turned into short stories and articles that I submitted for publication. A must have book for any serious writer.

  20. 5 out of 5

    M.P.

    Great starting point for new writers — and an excellent book to revisit with more experience (I dip back into this one now and then). This is a complete toolbox for the fiction writer, and what’s nice about approach is that it remains very practical while still focusing on “literary fiction.” Some writing books lean too heavily on screenwriting tips and lessons from mainstream genre fiction (why do so many writing books contain examples from movies?!), while others feel like reading manuals on m Great starting point for new writers — and an excellent book to revisit with more experience (I dip back into this one now and then). This is a complete toolbox for the fiction writer, and what’s nice about approach is that it remains very practical while still focusing on “literary fiction.” Some writing books lean too heavily on screenwriting tips and lessons from mainstream genre fiction (why do so many writing books contain examples from movies?!), while others feel like reading manuals on mysticism — more puzzling than practical. Lots of good stuff here.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Aya Zain

    Guys, this book is AMAZING. I've been looking for this title for years as well as my print copy due to all the super neat pointers and steps in this book... I was assigned this book as a reading for one of my college classes, and it has helped me shape and improve my writing style in college. It gives you ideas on what to write about, how to come up with new ideas, character development, and so much more. 10/10 recommend to anyone looking to write more.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Holly Allen

    Some great parts, some mediocre. The chapters on POV, publishing, and character are great and unique to what I’ve seen elsewhere. Other chapters, however, are ho-hum and about what you’d find on the blog of a helpful editor. Still, the POV and publishing chapters (and voice to a lesser extent) were so good that I had to give it four stars. The POV chapter writer made two references to autism that seemed totally unnecessary and offensive but I didn’t notice any other major issues.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Carlin

    Writing Fiction is a detailed writing guide covering all parts of the writing process from genesis to publication. Each chapter focuses on a different aspect of writing fiction, with plenty of examples drawn from both short stories and novels. I think this is an excellent guide and one I'll continually refer back to while writing.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Gonzalo

    A great and comprehensive manual about writing fiction. As a professional playwright/screenwriter (and now aspiring novelist), it helped me understand the similarities and differences between both media, and how to navigate the world of narrative. Highly recommended.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Matt A

    I am not, nor have I ever been, much of a writer. But I estimate this to be an invaluable resource for that ilk. The true treasure here is the short story vignettes which are then analyzed in detail discussing what worked great, and what flopped.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Bryn

    I had to read (most of) this book for my writing fiction class this semester. Me, I do not want to be a writing. Sounds very hard with not a lot of returns, but if you need a book to walk you through some tips would recommend! It’s helped me a bit with my work.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Kristina Johnston

    Indispensable guide to writing short fiction and novels. Great exercises to follow along throughout each chapter. Each chapter is a different writer giving the guide a fresh perspective. Loved it!

  28. 4 out of 5

    Hufflepuff Book Reviewer

    A good book of advice for people who want to craft powerful fiction, even if the advice given didn't feel particularly original.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Frank D Duringer

    a book I read over and over again

  30. 4 out of 5

    Llamaark

    Very clear and easy to understand.

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