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Elements of Fiction

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In his essential writing guide, This Year You Write Your Novel, Walter Mosley supplied aspiring writers with the basic tools to write a novel in one year. In this com-plementary follow up, Mosley guides the writer through the elements of not just any fiction writing, but the kind of writing that transcends convention and truly stands out. How does one approach the genius o In his essential writing guide, This Year You Write Your Novel, Walter Mosley supplied aspiring writers with the basic tools to write a novel in one year. In this com-plementary follow up, Mosley guides the writer through the elements of not just any fiction writing, but the kind of writing that transcends convention and truly stands out. How does one approach the genius of writers like Melville, Dickens, or Twain? In The Elements of Fiction, Walter Mosley contemplates the answer. In a series of instructive and conversational chapters, Mosley demonstrates how to master fiction's most essential elements: character and char-acter development, plot and story, voice and narrative, context and description, and more. The result is a vivid depiction of the writing process, from the blank page to the first draft to rewriting, and rewriting again. Throughout, The Elements of Fiction is enriched by brilliant demonstrative examples that Mosley himself has written here for the first time. Inspiring, accessible, and told in a voice both trustworthy and wise, The Elements of Fiction writing will intrigue and encourage writers and readers alike.


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In his essential writing guide, This Year You Write Your Novel, Walter Mosley supplied aspiring writers with the basic tools to write a novel in one year. In this com-plementary follow up, Mosley guides the writer through the elements of not just any fiction writing, but the kind of writing that transcends convention and truly stands out. How does one approach the genius o In his essential writing guide, This Year You Write Your Novel, Walter Mosley supplied aspiring writers with the basic tools to write a novel in one year. In this com-plementary follow up, Mosley guides the writer through the elements of not just any fiction writing, but the kind of writing that transcends convention and truly stands out. How does one approach the genius of writers like Melville, Dickens, or Twain? In The Elements of Fiction, Walter Mosley contemplates the answer. In a series of instructive and conversational chapters, Mosley demonstrates how to master fiction's most essential elements: character and char-acter development, plot and story, voice and narrative, context and description, and more. The result is a vivid depiction of the writing process, from the blank page to the first draft to rewriting, and rewriting again. Throughout, The Elements of Fiction is enriched by brilliant demonstrative examples that Mosley himself has written here for the first time. Inspiring, accessible, and told in a voice both trustworthy and wise, The Elements of Fiction writing will intrigue and encourage writers and readers alike.

30 review for Elements of Fiction

  1. 5 out of 5

    lark benobi

    Who is this book good for? For a writer who struggles to make her fiction conform to its original intention, or to follow the outline--only to discover that she's throttled the life out of it. It's also for those writers who are too interested in idea, and in thesis, even when writing fiction, and forget to let their stories breathe and meander. Reading this book feels something like going to a mountaintop to see a great wise holy person, and then thinking you're hearing a lot of sound-of-one-ha Who is this book good for? For a writer who struggles to make her fiction conform to its original intention, or to follow the outline--only to discover that she's throttled the life out of it. It's also for those writers who are too interested in idea, and in thesis, even when writing fiction, and forget to let their stories breathe and meander. Reading this book feels something like going to a mountaintop to see a great wise holy person, and then thinking you're hearing a lot of sound-of-one-hand-clapping nonsense...and yet, in spite of my skeptical brain having doubts, I came away in the end feeling blessed and enlightened. Opening my mind to Mosley's thinking led to interesting outcomes. The biggest revelation was how important it is to remember--and to really BELIEVE--that the story you're writing is bigger than what you can imagine for it, in your own head, and that you have nothing to lose by letting your story tell itself any damn way it wants to. You can clean it up on the second draft. As a writer who tends to skip any leaps of faith when they come around in my daily writing life, I found this book transformative.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Kathleen

    “Our job is to pare away the extraneous while accenting the essential without letting it seem that what we’re presenting is anything other than the everyday, the pedestrian experience of life that leads now and then to the unexpected and extraordinary, the satanic and divine.” There are endless books about writing, and I usually like them all because even one little hint, one specific tip or trick is worth reading a whole book to find. But this slim volume was surprisingly big on revelations. I pa “Our job is to pare away the extraneous while accenting the essential without letting it seem that what we’re presenting is anything other than the everyday, the pedestrian experience of life that leads now and then to the unexpected and extraordinary, the satanic and divine.” There are endless books about writing, and I usually like them all because even one little hint, one specific tip or trick is worth reading a whole book to find. But this slim volume was surprisingly big on revelations. I particularly appreciated Walter Mosley’s insights into the relationship between the writer and the story. He has a fantastic chapter called “The Novel is Bigger than your Head,” about how what you are writing starts as one thing but may very well become something else you never imagined, as the story drives who the characters become and what happens to them. I found this a brilliant and memorable insight: “The novel is like Dorian Gray’s portrait. It starts out beautiful, innocent, and hopeful. But as time passes, and we commit the sins of fiction, the portrait devolves under the decay and putrefaction associated with the hard labor of the writer rewriting the tale and discovering the reality that lies beneath. Absorbing our sins and failures, it loses perfection and instead is imbued with the rot and the stink of truth.” What I found so unique and wonderful about this book is Mosley talks about the magic of creating a novel, the alchemy involved, but with very approachable ideas. It’s such a difficult thing to put into words, and I admire him for figuring out how to get it across and make it accessible. Now I’m even more excited to read his fiction. “The beauty of life is in its flaws and how you deal with them. The beauty of writing is how you deal with those flaws in character and plot, story and Voice, a novel that in the end understands and accepts unavoidable failure.”

  3. 4 out of 5

    Jason Koivu

    Brief tips, recommendations and suggestions, reassurances and affirmations, and such on a handful of writing topics geared toward the intermediate writer. Good stuff in a bite-sized format from an author I respect.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Kemora

    College books hold no joy 🥲. Even if a book was actually enjoyable you know that it will lead to a paper, discussion or quiz. Why do the feel the need to try to mess with the reading experience is beyond me. With all that being said this was still very well written and a very quick read.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Ginger Bensman

    Here Mosley talks about the characteristics that make fine fiction. I would venture to say this is more a philosophy of writing than a "how to" book, although there is plenty to help a writer ponder and improve. For instance, he discusses what good fiction can have in common with jazz and poetry, and the alchemy that needs to happen between writer and reader. As both a writer and reader of fiction, I loved this book! Here Mosley talks about the characteristics that make fine fiction. I would venture to say this is more a philosophy of writing than a "how to" book, although there is plenty to help a writer ponder and improve. For instance, he discusses what good fiction can have in common with jazz and poetry, and the alchemy that needs to happen between writer and reader. As both a writer and reader of fiction, I loved this book!

  6. 5 out of 5

    Rami Hamze

    Easy read especially with font size 16. Yet nothing new, no takeaways to mention.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Maia

    I'm so glad I picked up this advance reader copy from Edelweiss. Mosley's writing is like sitting down with a wise teacher to have a conversation about the literary arts. He frequently addresses us directly, 'my fellow writer,' and starts new chapters by announcing that in re-reading what he's written so far, he realized something new that needs to be addressed. It truly feels like a conversation, like I could almost hear him speaking in my mind as I read. This is not a guidebook but a reflection I'm so glad I picked up this advance reader copy from Edelweiss. Mosley's writing is like sitting down with a wise teacher to have a conversation about the literary arts. He frequently addresses us directly, 'my fellow writer,' and starts new chapters by announcing that in re-reading what he's written so far, he realized something new that needs to be addressed. It truly feels like a conversation, like I could almost hear him speaking in my mind as I read. This is not a guidebook but a reflection and passing on of hard-learned wisdom. Although there is not much in this book that is completely new to those of us who have read many different books by writers on writing, I appreciated his original takes on common themes, straightforward language, and his illustrative examples, which helped me understand those themes more deeply than I did before. For example, he opens the book talking about the child-mind. This is something I've heard before, and I thought I knew what it meant. But he wrote this little tangential, playful description of the child-mind that took my understanding to new depths. Throughout the book, Mosley walks us through the thought process of each important skill of the novelist by literally proposing a storyline and expanding on it in a natural thought process, taking us on the writer's journey with him. I found his examples illuminating, and also reassuring that I'm not the only one who ever struggles with an idea. The last two chapters in particular were extremely encouraging and felt like the most passionate section in the whole book. Those chapters alone make it worth picking up. I read this book in one sitting--it's only 128 pages--and I think it's worthwhile for any writer to read and reflect on. I'd especially recommend it to writers who are just setting out, who may not have received the kind of guidance and knowledge that Mosley shares here. Of all the books on writing I've read, I think this is the most direct and easy to understand, while not being prescriptive. Mosley simply offers up his own learning to help us expand our thinking about novel writing, and I personally found it very helpful in shaping my thoughts.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Mohamad Ismail

    Profound and perhaps the best book I've read this year. Mosley is such a beautiful wordsmith that you enjoy reading his mastery of how he explains things in words, almost irrespective of what he is explaining. On the surface, the book seems to be about writing advice, and in particular, what makes good fiction, good. It is much more than that. For me, Mosley diminishes the word ineffable slightly, because he explains things I thought were unexplainable via prose. This book can be applied to art, Profound and perhaps the best book I've read this year. Mosley is such a beautiful wordsmith that you enjoy reading his mastery of how he explains things in words, almost irrespective of what he is explaining. On the surface, the book seems to be about writing advice, and in particular, what makes good fiction, good. It is much more than that. For me, Mosley diminishes the word ineffable slightly, because he explains things I thought were unexplainable via prose. This book can be applied to art, to business, to life, and broadly speaking, to connecting to your subconscious. It's a phenomenal, short, but deep read.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Mary

    Having just read Walter Mosley’s op ed in The New York Times about leaving the writing room of an unnamed TV show, I was interested in his new book, “Elements of Fiction,” because I wanted to hear more about his life and experiences as a writer. But “Elements of Fiction” is not that book—if you pick it up looking for a memoir with writing advice along the lines of “Draft No. 4” by John McPhee or Robert Caro’s “Working,” you might be disappointed. If, however, you’re looking for an inventive take Having just read Walter Mosley’s op ed in The New York Times about leaving the writing room of an unnamed TV show, I was interested in his new book, “Elements of Fiction,” because I wanted to hear more about his life and experiences as a writer. But “Elements of Fiction” is not that book—if you pick it up looking for a memoir with writing advice along the lines of “Draft No. 4” by John McPhee or Robert Caro’s “Working,” you might be disappointed. If, however, you’re looking for an inventive take on a writing how-to guide, “Elements” is well worth the read. Mosley writes that “the creation of a novel is akin to a mad scramble up a mountainside layered with loose pebbles. Any handhold or solid ground you can find will be a blessing.” “Elements” is full of those handholds, as Mosley takes the reader through a series of hypothetical plots and characters and poses all the questions a writer needs to ask along the way to producing a finished book. For someone like me, who isn’t planning on writing a book any time soon (or, in fact, probably ever), Molsey’s book was a quick read and an entertaining look at how fiction is constructed. I can imagine that aspiring writers, however, will want to read “Elements” slowly and will be highlighting practically the entire book. Thank you to NetGalley and Grove Press for providing me an ARC of this book in return for my honest review.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Kathleen Flynn

    As a struggling novelist myself, I understand perfectly that there is no book of instructions, no program guide, that can tell you how to write a novel. The only way to learn to write a novel is to by writing one. And unfortunately that only works for that particular novel; it doesn't make it easier to write a second one, or so has been my experience at least. Yet knowing this can't stop me from reading books of writing advice. I guess I keep thinking even one small piece of guidance might help w As a struggling novelist myself, I understand perfectly that there is no book of instructions, no program guide, that can tell you how to write a novel. The only way to learn to write a novel is to by writing one. And unfortunately that only works for that particular novel; it doesn't make it easier to write a second one, or so has been my experience at least. Yet knowing this can't stop me from reading books of writing advice. I guess I keep thinking even one small piece of guidance might help with this voyage into the unknown. Walter Mosley's contribution to the crowded field is very interesting, because "Elements of Fiction" is written in a way that replicates the confusion, the randomness, the groping around in the dark, that is the experience of writing a novel. Despite this the book is not itself confusing but beautiful and true and even at times funny. I liked Elements of Fiction a lot, and to see why, look at my highlights.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Zulfiya

    Such a wonderful quirky book. It might be an instruction manual on how to write novel, or a long lecture on the same subject matter, or a self-confessional monologue or simply a writer's diary about the nature of fiction and its creation. I do like the tone. It is as if you are indeed in the presence of Walter Mosley who finds the most beautiful but also approachable way to describe writing as a very intimate process of creation; thus, I felt initiated while I was reading it. P.S. I really love Such a wonderful quirky book. It might be an instruction manual on how to write novel, or a long lecture on the same subject matter, or a self-confessional monologue or simply a writer's diary about the nature of fiction and its creation. I do like the tone. It is as if you are indeed in the presence of Walter Mosley who finds the most beautiful but also approachable way to describe writing as a very intimate process of creation; thus, I felt initiated while I was reading it. P.S. I really love how he plays on our literary gender stereotypes and expectations, using the pronoun " she" every time an average reader would expect "he", even when he alluded to someone/no one with the capital G, aka G.O.D., he used the pronoun "she", and I found it profoundly hilarious.

  12. 5 out of 5

    T'challa

    I thoroughly enjoy the teachings of Mr. Mosley. I am a fan of his writing, so being able to see how his mind works is a gift. His improvisations weave his theories into practice right before your eyes. He takes the reader on a journey of elaborate vocabulary and vivid pictures of voice, plot device and character development. The most important key for any writer is to write every day. The only thing I disagree with is the importance of reading. I understand Mr. Mosley's point about the impact of I thoroughly enjoy the teachings of Mr. Mosley. I am a fan of his writing, so being able to see how his mind works is a gift. His improvisations weave his theories into practice right before your eyes. He takes the reader on a journey of elaborate vocabulary and vivid pictures of voice, plot device and character development. The most important key for any writer is to write every day. The only thing I disagree with is the importance of reading. I understand Mr. Mosley's point about the impact of what you read on words you have yet to put on page. I still believe reading is an education within itself. Nevertheless this book is a great resource and I believe I am a better writer because I read it. (Did you catch that?)

  13. 4 out of 5

    Joshua Clifford

    This is a motivating, high-level, and non-condescending essay on writing novels. Mosley stresses the importance of curiosity and patience when taking up the task of writing - and he reminds us why it should be a limitless experience rather than a calculated chore.

  14. 5 out of 5

    David Crow

    Great examples Walter Mosley is a great storyteller and an equally great teacher. This gem of a book will help every writer find the right tools to bring your novel to life. I highly recommend.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Tim Beck

    Nothing extraordinary or ground breaking about this book - however, it did give my brain a needed boost.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Nicki Markus

    Elements of Fiction was an interesting, entertaining and quick read. Mosley's prose flows nicely and its tone is lyrical. However, I think readers need to be aware of what they are getting from this work. It does include a few tips and suggestions, but on the whole it is a reflection on the writing process, rather than a how-to manual, and anyone approaching it expecting the latter will be disappointed. For me personally, it raised a few interesting thoughts and ideas, and it was a pleasant even Elements of Fiction was an interesting, entertaining and quick read. Mosley's prose flows nicely and its tone is lyrical. However, I think readers need to be aware of what they are getting from this work. It does include a few tips and suggestions, but on the whole it is a reflection on the writing process, rather than a how-to manual, and anyone approaching it expecting the latter will be disappointed. For me personally, it raised a few interesting thoughts and ideas, and it was a pleasant evening's read, looking at another author's approach to and feelings about the writing process. As such, I am giving it four stars. I received this book as a free eBook ARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Kerry Booth

    In a world teeming with books on writing, this one doesn’t set itself apart. For the casual, ‘dreamy’ writer.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Lana Mitchell

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. I think I will be returning to Elements of Fiction by Walter Mosley, again and again, to reread the advice and suggestions offered in the book. He says for example on 115, the last page, "The purpose of this book has been to show by example and intention how deeply you can go into your mind, excavating a world worth the struggle, the many thousands of hours, and just the right words." "...excavating a world worth the struggle..." I like the phrase and will remember it as I write short stories, p I think I will be returning to Elements of Fiction by Walter Mosley, again and again, to reread the advice and suggestions offered in the book. He says for example on 115, the last page, "The purpose of this book has been to show by example and intention how deeply you can go into your mind, excavating a world worth the struggle, the many thousands of hours, and just the right words." "...excavating a world worth the struggle..." I like the phrase and will remember it as I write short stories, poetry, etc. Mosley does say that it is a good resource, useful for those genres too. I'm in the reading mode right now. I've started two other works.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Martha Crites

    I love this book because it is clear that Mosley loves fiction.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Andrew Shaffer

    I would point readers to his first writing book, THIS YEAR YOU WRITE YOUR NOVEL. I found that one much more straightforward and user-friendly, especially for beginning writers.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Nathan Albright

    What is it that makes people want to write about writing?  Part of the reason why, at least to me, is because writing is one of those crafts that has a high degree of impostor syndrome about it, where people self-identify as writers and then seek to justify their identities to themselves and others.  When one is engaged in a task where one's achievements are perhaps a bit limited (although that is not the case here) or where one's identity may be called into account, or where the legitimacy of o What is it that makes people want to write about writing?  Part of the reason why, at least to me, is because writing is one of those crafts that has a high degree of impostor syndrome about it, where people self-identify as writers and then seek to justify their identities to themselves and others.  When one is engaged in a task where one's achievements are perhaps a bit limited (although that is not the case here) or where one's identity may be called into account, or where the legitimacy of one's efforts are definitely less than obvious, the human tendency to justify oneself is immense and this book is certainly an example of that.  The author has a particular perspective and worldview and background and this book shapes that heavily, as the author tries to justify the "truths of his heart" that contradict the objective facts of existence that he finds somewhat unpleasant or even problematic.  Perhaps it is unsurprising that this is so, as it would likely be the case for anyone who is writing a book like this.  But that is why there are so many efforts like this one where people subjectively, out of their own biases and perspectives, seek to advice others as a means of helping them better justify themselves. This book is a short collection of the author's thoughts about writing that is a bit more than 100 pages.  The author begins with a preface that seeks to frame and justify this work and the author's own perspective on writing and creativity in general.  After that the author discusses an introduction where he (as is customary in this sort of effort) also plugs another book he has written.  The author then discusses the structure of revelation that appears in the author's writing (not surprising given the author's interest in mysteries) while also wrestling with structure in fiction and the blank page.  The author uses his own writings and ideas to address the questions of scope, character, and context in literature.  The author spends some time looking at narrative voice and details and spends a few short essays on description.  The author also deals with questions of rewriting and originality while also discussing the need to take a breather and the question of both improvising and putting things together.  By and large this book feels like it was constructed out of blog entries, which is not the worst thing but is certainly far less universal and far more of a personal essay than the ponderous title would indicate. That said, just because this book is an exercise in self-justification and that I do not necessarily find the author's work all that edifying does not mean that this work is therefore pointless.  Even where (perhaps even especially where) one's own perspective differs greatly from that of an author, a book is worthwhile in providing the point of view of an author, even apart from anything else that the book has to offer.  As someone who is not very acquainted with the author's works, I probably did not get as much out of this effort as someone would who was more favorable to his writings.  That said, even without a close familiarity with the author's other works, it was clear that the author was drawing upon his own writing (and presumably the body of experience and reading that his writing is informed by) as a way of making general points about writing.  As human beings we frequently seek to turn the particular matters we are most familiar with and then turn them into abstract and general truths that we seek to promote as being the case for areas where our experience is extremely partial and limited.  If this book speaks to you, use it.  If not, then know that it comes from the author's own subjective experience and perspective and seek to find one that speaks to you more.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Annie

    Originally published on my blog: Nonstop Reader. Elements of Fiction is a guide/tutorial/master-class on elements of writing aimed at writers (or would-be writers) by well known author Walter Mosley. Released 3rd Sept. 2019 by Grove Atlantic on their Grove Press imprint, it's a concise 128 pages and available in hardcover, ebook, and audio formats. I've been a fan of Mr. Mosley's crime- and science- fiction for many years and although I don't really have any definite desires to be a writer my Originally published on my blog: Nonstop Reader. Elements of Fiction is a guide/tutorial/master-class on elements of writing aimed at writers (or would-be writers) by well known author Walter Mosley. Released 3rd Sept. 2019 by Grove Atlantic on their Grove Press imprint, it's a concise 128 pages and available in hardcover, ebook, and audio formats. I've been a fan of Mr. Mosley's crime- and science- fiction for many years and although I don't really have any definite desires to be a writer myself, it's always enlightening to get to see some of the nuts-and-bolts of the process going on behind the scenes. I was hoping for some step-by-step tutorials or hand holding 'start HERE and do this or that' type teaching. This is emphatically not that book. What it is, however, is a conversational treatise on the philosophy of the craft and scattered nuggets of real salient wisdom about what makes a good novel good and sometimes great. As an almost(?) neurotically active reader, I've often experienced having positive or negative feelings about a narrative and not easily being able to articulate precisely why. There were several gut-punch moments in this book which, for me, shone a light on some of those visceral reactions. I'm tempted to go back and re-read some of those books which confused me with an eye toward deconstructing them in terms of the information in this book. As a straight up how-to-write-a-novel tutorial, this isn't This Year You Write Your Novel . This book is much less focused on the writing process and more a long conversational essay on writing philosophy. The chapters are very loosely tied together, some of them segueing into the next chapter, some exploring a theme and then petering out. This is not a book with a logical layout and bullet point lists of information. Readers who are looking for easily found info-points, graphs, marketing or any related items will be disappointed. Those who are open to guidance from a lifetime of experience by a gifted writer will find much to assimilate in this book. Four stars. This is an information rich book, but in a philosophical manner. There are no easy opt-ins for the wisdom Mosley shares, we have to think about what he writes. I recommend it for readers who want to know the 'why' more than the 'how-to' of writing fiction. Disclosure: I received an ARC at no cost from the author/publisher for review purposes

  23. 4 out of 5

    R.C.

    I found the book to be flying at warp speed most of the time, and yet I also frequently found myself having to re-read passages because my mind had wandered. Deceptively basic in format, Mosley's style of communication is at once straightforward and overdone in that he attempts to cut to the core of the things he has to say, but gets in his own way through long sentences and grandiose vocabulary choices. While I do respect that every writer's vocab and style is different, this particular experie I found the book to be flying at warp speed most of the time, and yet I also frequently found myself having to re-read passages because my mind had wandered. Deceptively basic in format, Mosley's style of communication is at once straightforward and overdone in that he attempts to cut to the core of the things he has to say, but gets in his own way through long sentences and grandiose vocabulary choices. While I do respect that every writer's vocab and style is different, this particular experience didn't really work for me. Another aspect that I found unfortunate was Mosley's insistence upon examples, as well as subsequent lengthy explorations of where those snippets of story might lead. While they're intended to serve as illustrations for his points, I found them wearisome and not as informative as if he had simply told us what he meant. As I'm someone who always welcomes examples, this rare instance in which I support telling over showing is surprising to discover. Nonetheless, I did read the entire (admittedly short) work, and found some good things to think on and employ concerning my own journey in writing. He did give me renewed courage in my decision to not attend a writing grad program in the second to last section, in which he absolutely guts the idea of paying thousands to listen to authors (who are not teachers) look at your work and tell you their subjective experiences. Unfortunately, in the same chapter, he also tells us that, "reading and writing... don't have a whole helluva lot to do with each other" (105). This goes hand-in-hand with his insistence that attending an MFA program is no guarantee of better writing, as only life experience and hard work can do that; yet I have no idea how any writer could conceive of improving themselves in either substance or technical craft without reading widely and hungrily. I've heard that his prior book on writing ('This Year You Write Your Novel') is perhaps better formed, and I am looking forward to giving that a go. But if his style remains the same, and if he again dismisses the value of reading, I'm not sure how seriously I'll be able to take his advice. While I will appreciate what things I have learned from it, 'Elements of Fiction' will not be a book I return to down the road.

  24. 4 out of 5

    John

    This is a really excellent short book on fiction writing, but is mostly somewhat indicates the opening pages is intended mostly for people who have some experience in the study of the creative writing craft. There are a lot of basics that are mentioned but not discussed in order to get real value from it a reader would need to of taken at least one introductory level fiction writing class or read some other more basic books on the craft of fiction writing, including but not limited to Mosley's o This is a really excellent short book on fiction writing, but is mostly somewhat indicates the opening pages is intended mostly for people who have some experience in the study of the creative writing craft. There are a lot of basics that are mentioned but not discussed in order to get real value from it a reader would need to of taken at least one introductory level fiction writing class or read some other more basic books on the craft of fiction writing, including but not limited to Mosley's own 'write your novel this year.' I'm not sure that that is the exact title but it is something like that. Unfortunately I came across this book quite by accident while searching for something else in my public library. At the time I didn't know that the preceding 'write your novel…' Bookkeeping existed. At the time I was just so please find this one. But I will now go back and read the earlier 'write your novel…' Book and then we read this text. I expect that I will get more out of it. At that time I may come back and revise this review. 2 specific things that I really like about this book are one, the book as a whole the short only 115 pages and the 'chapters,' if you can even call them that are equally short and to the point. Mosley in this book follows a principal I learned in speechmaking and teaching "get up, speak up, shut up, and sit down." When it comes to teaching about fiction writing mostly as a man of few words. I think this is good because too many writing teachers who write books about how to write novels drone on and on and you spend more time reading the craft book about how to write the novel than you do writing the novel. This is something that mostly apparently fight against, as he recognizes that I do, that spending too much time reading what is called a craft book often saps the energy of the writer and takes away from their ability to write their piece. I also loved this book because it is not often that a student of writing gets to read and "craft book" by a popular fiction novelist that the student knows very well. As someone who has read a number of Mosley's easy Rawlins novels was fun and enlightening to read his take on the craft of fiction writing and see how he applies it. In his own creative work.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Vel Veeter

    I picked up this book from the new books shelf at the library while I was waiting for my oil to get changed. It’s a weirdly harmless book that annoyed in a few particular ways. I generally like Walter Mosley novels, but he’s got that thing that almost every prolific novelist has, the inability to not write a book that he’s thinking about writing. That’s why he’s published so many books in his career, and for every very good one, there’s some really really bad ones. So part of the issue is that I I picked up this book from the new books shelf at the library while I was waiting for my oil to get changed. It’s a weirdly harmless book that annoyed in a few particular ways. I generally like Walter Mosley novels, but he’s got that thing that almost every prolific novelist has, the inability to not write a book that he’s thinking about writing. That’s why he’s published so many books in his career, and for every very good one, there’s some really really bad ones. So part of the issue is that I agree that he definitely knows how to write books, but his compulsion and methodology would be hard to recreate in others. And that’s part of the problem. How do you capture a how-to guide for new writers if your system is sui generis to yourself? I think the opening sections of Graham Greene’s The End of the Affair is the possible advice. Write 500 words a day and in a year you’ll have a novel. But here the advice is so obvious and on the nose, I can’t imagine anyone really needing to hear it in this way. Also this whole book is peppered with allusions to other works and I feel like if the reader of this book has read those books, they can’t possibly need the relatively elementary advice this book gives. If you’re reading Dostoyevsky, you don’t need advice like “well choose between first and third person”. Not to say you could write a book—I can’t—but I think you’d know what you needed to do at least. So this book feels like the opposite of a book like Save the Cat or The Art of Memoir which really take a teacher’s sense of how to write rather than a writer’s.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Jonathan H. LATER

    This review was inspired by my annotations. To view all my detailed annotations you are welcome to join my Patreon page (John Lawchamp). For $0.99 you can read my favorite lines and excerpts from the book with additional personal thoughts. The annotations are released once the review of that book has been posted on Goodreads. Why spend $15.00 on a book you are not invested in when you can explore the main topics for a fraction of the price? Visit Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/Lawchamp John Law This review was inspired by my annotations. To view all my detailed annotations you are welcome to join my Patreon page (John Lawchamp). For $0.99 you can read my favorite lines and excerpts from the book with additional personal thoughts. The annotations are released once the review of that book has been posted on Goodreads. Why spend $15.00 on a book you are not invested in when you can explore the main topics for a fraction of the price? Visit Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/Lawchamp John Lawchamp’s Review: This year I read another book on writing by Walter Mosley, and that one, I gave a 5 of 5. This one was okay, but didn't surpass his last book on the subject. However, this is not to say there is nothing to learn. Walter fixes our minds in what it means to be a writer. There is no need for college. The greatest writers never even had an opportunity to go to college yet their works are known globally. This book teaches by example. Walter goes in depth with fictional examples that he made up just to show you how you can develop a story. He goes through subjects such as character, voice, perspective, poetry, rewriting, and many others. I would recommend this to anyone who is looking for a short read to add to their library of Goodreads. But the money is probably not worth the amount of pages you are getting. I finished this book in 2 hours, just to give you an idea of length.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Larry Coleman

    If you're looking for a step-by-step manual for how to write fiction, this is not the book for you. This book is an experienced writer musing on his own experiences writing for as long as he has and the lessons he's learned along the way. If you've written a lot, this book will have you nodding your head often and/or saying, "Yep, I know that feeling." If you haven't, this will give you an idea of what to expect when you do. It is not intended to turn you into a prolific author. Instead, I took i If you're looking for a step-by-step manual for how to write fiction, this is not the book for you. This book is an experienced writer musing on his own experiences writing for as long as he has and the lessons he's learned along the way. If you've written a lot, this book will have you nodding your head often and/or saying, "Yep, I know that feeling." If you haven't, this will give you an idea of what to expect when you do. It is not intended to turn you into a prolific author. Instead, I took it as an opportunity to look into how the mind of one works. In a sense, it is a one-night seminar given by an engaging, knowledgeable lecturer but in paper form. If you pick it up with that in mind, this book exceeds expectations. If you pick it up thinking it's going to turn you into a NYT bestselling author overnight, it won't meet your expectations at all. In that case, I'd recommend picking up one of those books whose title is some variation on How to Write a Novel in 60 Minutes and Sell Eleventy Million Copies by Last Tuesday that are a dime a dozen. If you're planning on doing your first NaNoWriMo, this is a good, quick book to read in September or October to give you a feel for what your experience might be like. Then once you're done with November, read it again in December or January and smile at how Mosley's thoughts that once felt like, "Umm, okay," before NaNoWriMo turn into, "Oh, wow, that's what he was talking about" in the course of a few months.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Carey Calvert

    Although you may grasp its context while sitting in your easy chair, sipping your elixir of choice, cigar in one hand, perhaps a monocle affixed to your left eye, you would have to finish Walter Mosley's slim monograph, Elements of Fiction, to fully understand its purpose. ... which is "to show by example and intention how deeply you can go into your mind, excavating a world worth the struggle, the many thousands of hours, and just the right words." With such lofty aspirations for the writer, Mosl Although you may grasp its context while sitting in your easy chair, sipping your elixir of choice, cigar in one hand, perhaps a monocle affixed to your left eye, you would have to finish Walter Mosley's slim monograph, Elements of Fiction, to fully understand its purpose. ... which is "to show by example and intention how deeply you can go into your mind, excavating a world worth the struggle, the many thousands of hours, and just the right words." With such lofty aspirations for the writer, Mosley becomes a shift shaper, gently imploring the reader not with homilies but a conscientious effort of exploration of the vast cavern of the mind, one capable of accomplishing much more - if one just gets to it. It is not a manual offering step by step instruction (what fun is that?); although he is not shirking responsibility for having written such a bold treatise (see also 2007's This Year You Write Your Novel), but rather, its intent is to explore the internal makeup of the elements of fiction writing: character and character development, plot and story, voice and narrative, context and description, content and the blank page, and intentional structure versus unconscious material. Contemplative and reassuring, Elements of Fiction is a thoughtful journey through how a story is told; one which may benefit a writer but more importantly, makes one a better reader.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Amit Verma

    .This is my second book about writing. first one was Writing to be understood by Anne Janzer. . I liked elements of fiction and read it in single session of reading. . . There are great authors who never went to college. And there are no set rules and secret formula about writing a book. . . This book is simple and tries to remain grounded while telling reader basic things about writing. . It depicts magnanimous nature of a story and how story is bigger than any IQ and any brain. . It shows basic things l .This is my second book about writing. first one was Writing to be understood by Anne Janzer. . I liked elements of fiction and read it in single session of reading. . . There are great authors who never went to college. And there are no set rules and secret formula about writing a book. . . This book is simple and tries to remain grounded while telling reader basic things about writing. . It depicts magnanimous nature of a story and how story is bigger than any IQ and any brain. . It shows basic things like character, plot, context, narration and author shows use of these by writing simle paragraphs within the essay. . Best part is that book is enjoyable and informative. There is no non logical stuff or hollow facts. Aurhor appreciates that story writing is an art which can only improve by writing. . I liked genuine criticism of creative writing courses by author and he emphasises that each blank page should be approached like a curious baby and secrets should be discovered. . Story is a living thing and it should be allowed to grow. We only need to groom it. . .Lovely book for any book reader who is nursing thoughts of writing himself someday. . Thanks netgalley and publisher for review copy.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Grace

    Too bad this is a review of an uncorrected proof I grabbed from a public bookcase because I could have pulled a bunch of quotes from this. There was a nice consolation prize though. A greater portion of the advanced copy was printed upside and had the advantage of letting me have a Luna Lovegood moment on the bus when I got to wink a kid who thought I was crazy because I was seemingly reading the book with the wrong side up. Even though the chapters read like thematically connected essays; the bo Too bad this is a review of an uncorrected proof I grabbed from a public bookcase because I could have pulled a bunch of quotes from this. There was a nice consolation prize though. A greater portion of the advanced copy was printed upside and had the advantage of letting me have a Luna Lovegood moment on the bus when I got to wink a kid who thought I was crazy because I was seemingly reading the book with the wrong side up. Even though the chapters read like thematically connected essays; the book avoids the stiff formality common to essays. It doesn't expound on the author at all, but it feels revealing. It's practically an ode to the novel and writing. It makes you want to set to writing yourself as he turns over each element over and asks you to look at it through a different angle or some other light - what would happen if you tried a different context or narrator in your own fiction? And even if you have no desire to write yourself, this has interesting discussion about the considerations that (should) go into the creation of fiction (and includes the quick observation that university/writing sessions aren’t the only place where great writing can be found and/or fostered).

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