©1995 Sol Stein; (P)2003 Blackstone Audiobooks
This is the first book I have read or listened to on the craft of writing, so I have nothing to compare it to. But, I thought it was a very good book. Mr. Stein presents a lot of very good ideas and things to think about, and presents them in a way that is easy to understand. I think this is a very helpful book and time well spent. I'm considering buying a print copy so I can study it in more detail and highlight the parts I need to study more.
This is the kind of styles I like: good pace, cerebral, well-documented, meaty, mind-bending.
When I got the book, I wondered whether this would not just be for aspiring novelists, not at all!
If you are like me, there are times you're listening/reading a book and thinking that you don't like the book. You don't know why, but you just don't like it. Usually, that's because you're bored but why you're bored is not clear. Further, you're wondering whether it is worth going a bit further into the book, maybe it will get better.
What Stein's text does is tell what works in a book and vice-versa, tell you why you don't like a book. And it's simply amazing how many books do not follow Stein's basic recommendation and how this shows when listening to them.
Read this book and you will know why you don't like a book and when it is time to let it go. If I had known about it earlier, it would have saved me so much time not giving second chances to books that were ultimately completely pointless. I will give here a few examples of things (among many others) that Stein's clearly identifies as poor boring writing:
1. Characters that are sissies or winny, and have no strength of will,
2. Stories that tell but do not show what's really happening,
3. Stories in which things just do not start with something unusual, it's just the plain regular life.
What's interesting about Stein's ideas is that they are delightfully adapted to our times. There are classics that do not follow these rules and that, if they were not accepted as classics, would probably fail. It makes the lessons quite fresh and certainly not obvious and a must read for anyone who wants to know why he did not like a particular book.
Some take it as a lesson on writing, take it as a lesson on reading.
I took away a lot of great advice from this book (though you might not be able to tell from the reviews I write)
It seemed as if Stein spent a lot of time telling us how famous and successful he was and what a great influence he had been on a number of other famous and successful people. if you listen to this in a week like I did, you don't need to hear 20 times how he mentored an oscar winning director. Just get to the point.
This book kept me from reinventing the wheel. The audio format was useful.
I felt like I was at one of Sol's writer's clinics.
People read to escape so don't bore them with the mundane.
I think my writing has improved after listening to this treatise.
Great content if you are ready to write your first novel. After a while though it becomes bla bla bla.. as the reader just drones on and on.
I replayed sections more than once, as I lost concentration because the reader is so dry.
"nobody likes ordinary people, they are boring"
"think of the sexiest woman you know, now think of her bald, not so sexy now is she"
I want writing tips, not tips on how to reject everything that isn't mainstream.
Yes there are genuinely good writing tips in here, but they are each buried under half an hour to an hour of boring bs examples and waffle.
This book written by and editor SURE AS HELL NEEDS AND EDITOR!
The irony of that and reading a book discussing how to make your characters more likeable while finding the narrator deeply unpleasant wasn't lost on me.
I got through two and a half hours of this and I want a damn medal.
Speaker, Leader, innovation consultant, kilt-wearer, South African.
If you're a writer, this is a fantastic refresher on everything you know you should be doing.
If you're not a writer, this is an excellent primer on writing.
It's good for fiction and non-fiction writers -- and it's improved my writing tremendously (can you tell by how well-written this review is? ;-)
Of course it doesn't take into account blogging or twitter -- but it's written by a master. Very good indeed.
I found this to be an education in how to write AND read. When I read a book now I find myself critiquing aspects I would not have noticed before. As another reviewer said, it's like being back in a university/college class. You will want to take notes. I will read this book again and highly recommend it to anyone interested in writing.
Sol Stein touches on all aspects of Fiction Writing and the examples given were interesting examples from other famous writers as well.
James Scott Bell's Revision & Self-Editing and Plot and Structure.
Yes, but I had to stop and write!
Hearing the lessons on my Kindle Fire was one of the most enjoyable experiences. I took Sol Stein with me while I relaxed in the patio, amid trees and birds from the greenbelt; and listened to his teaching as I chopped vegetables in the kitchen. Sol is so interesting I didn't want to put the book down!
This book has really opened my eyes to any story being told. I now look at my writings, others writings, and even movies, in a whole new light. The hours listening to this book is well worth your times and I don't think there is even a class out there that can beat what is covered in this time frame.
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