Today I am reviewing something slightly different to the usual books found on this blog. When I am not reading, blogging or sleeping I write fiction. Like many readers, I dream of seeing my book in a book shop surrounded by authors I love so when I was offered a chance to review this book on writing fiction I knew I had to take it. My writing journey can be found here.
Book Review: Writing Fiction A User-friendly Guide by James Essinger
Title: Writing Fiction a user-friendly guide
Author: James Essinger
Genre: Non-fiction, Writing
Publisher: The Conrad Press
Release Date: 1st August 2019
‘Writing Fiction is a little pot of gold… Screenplay by Syd Field for film, Writing Fiction by James Essinger for fiction. It’s that simple.’
William Osborne, novelist and screenwriter
Writing Fiction – a user-friendly guide is a must-read if you want to write stories to a professional standard.
It draws on the author’s more than thirty years of experience as a professional writer, and on the work and ideas of writers including:
- Anthony Burgess
- Joseph Conrad
- George Eliot
- Ken Follett
- Frederick Forsyth
- Dan Harmon
- Ernest Hemingway
- David Lodge
- Norman Mailer
- John Milton
- Ben Parker
- K. Rowling
- William Shakespeare
- Martin Cruz Smith
- R.R. Tolkien
The twenty-four chapters cover every important matter you need to know about, including: devising a compelling story, creating and developing characters, plotting, ‘plants’, backstory, suspense, dialogue, ‘show’ and ‘tell’, and how to make your novel more real than reality.
Also featuring special guest advice from legendary screenwriter Bob Gale, who wrote the three immortal Back to the Future movies (1985, 1989 and 1990), and novelist and screenwriter William Osborne, whose many screen credits include the co-writing of the blockbuster Twins (1988), this highly entertaining book gives you all the advice and practical guidance you need to make your dream of becoming a published fiction writer come true.
James Essinger is a novelist, non-fiction writer and publisher so he has the experience to write a writing guide. This is a concise, useful and easy-to-read book for beginners and breaks down the important elements of fiction writing. Examples are given to illustrate the advice with links to Back to the Future, Titanic and The Day of the Jackal.
I enjoyed learning about how the oral tradition of telling stories around the campfire has evolved through time to Dickens, Conrad and more modern novelists like Ken Follett and the importance of picking a role model suitable for today’s readers. He gives a good overview of Joseph Campbell’s The Hero’s Journey which gives a story a solid structure. There are several tips that will help my writing but as a writer of women’s fiction and magical realism some suggestions were not applicable. If I had read this before learning the expectations of readers from those genres, I think I would have come away disheartened after trying to fit my manuscript to all the points given and failing. The bias to male authors made the book less relatable to what it could have been.
Would I recommend?
Writing Fiction a user-friendly guide is useful and the length makes it ideal to read between writing your own chapters. It is worth reading for writers of crime and thrillers.
James Essinger has been a professional writer since 1988. His non-fiction books include Jacquard’s Web (2004), Ada’s Algorithm (2013), which is to be filmed by Monumental Pictures, and Charles and Ada: the computer’s most passionate partnership (2019). His novels include The Mating Game (2016) and The Ada Lovelace Project (2019).
Social Media Links – https://www.facebook.com/james.essinger
Thank you Rachel’s Random Resources and The Conrad Press for the copy of Writing Fiction a user-friendly guide to review and give my honest opinion.