Stein on Writing provides immediately useful advice for all writers of fiction and nonfiction, whether they are newcomers or old hands, students or instructors, amateurs or professionals. As the always clear and direct Stein explains here, “This is not a book of theory. It is a book of usable solutions–how to fix writing that is flawed, how to improve writing that is good, how to create interesting writing in the first place.” With examples from bestsellers as well as from students’ drafts, Stein offers detailed sections on characterization, dialogue, pacing, flashbacks, trimming away flabby wording, the so-called “triage” method of revision, using the techniques of fiction to enliven nonfiction, and more.”The best reading experiences,” says Sol Stein, “defy interruption.” With Stein’s assistance, you can grab your reader on page 1 and not let go until “The End.” Stein–author of nine novels (including the bestselling The Magician) and editor to James Baldwin, W.H. Auden, and Lionel Trilling–offers “usable solutions” for any writing problem you may encounter. He is authoritative and commanding–neither cheerleader nor naysayer. Instead, he rails against mediocrity and demands that you expunge it from your work. Perhaps the concept of scrutinizing every modifier, every metaphor, every character trait sounds like drudgery. But with Stein’s lively guidance, it is a pleasure. Stein recommends that you brew conflict in your prose by giving your characters different “scripts.” He challenges you, in an exercise concerning voice, to write the sentence you want the world to remember you by. He uses an excerpt from E.L. Doctorow to demonstrate poorly written monologue and a series of Taster’s Choice commercials as an example of dialogue that works. Stein’s bottom line is that good writing must be suspenseful. Your job, says Stein, “is to give readers stress, strain, and pressure. The fact is that readers who hate those things in life love them in fiction.” –Jane Steinberg

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This article has 2 comments

  1. Anonymous

    All in all, it’s a swell, engaging and rapid read that’s chock full of useful insight. It’s a Must Have for any author! Holy Stein! When’s the last time you picked up a book and learned something within the first 15 or 20 minutes? This book did that for me.In fact, I was scribbling and highlighting like a nine year old within minutes of cracking the paperback.Biggest Take away? His description on SHOW ME DON’T TELL ME is the best I have read to date.Are you a writer? Then, stop what you’re doing, and order this book today. It will open your eyes and mind in a fresh way. Oh,…

  2. Anonymous

    Yet another advocates for sameness in the 21st century. The American literature does not happen in a vacuum, but, thank goodness, on the world stage. Stein seems oblivious to the fact that by following the advice of editors like him, 90% of American fiction reads like a B rated movie told shot by shot, and this is not literature compared with what still gets published elsewhere across the globe.As someone who received hundreds of ARCs at Book Expo America I was astounded by the SAMENESS and MEDIOCRITY of 80 percent of what gets — so…

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