Making Shapely Fiction

Jerome Stern (Author)

Overview | Inside the Book

A deft analysis and appreciation of fiction—what makes it work and what can make it fail.

Here is a book about the craft of writing fiction that is thoroughly useful from the first to the last page—whether the reader is a beginner, a seasoned writer, or a teacher of writing. You will see how a work takes form and shape once you grasp the principles of momentum, tension, and immediacy. "Tension," Stern says, "is the mother of fiction. When tension and immediacy combine, the story begins." Dialogue and action, beginnings and endings, the true meaning of "write what you know," and a memorable listing of don'ts for fiction writers are all covered. A special section features an Alphabet for Writers: entries range from Accuracy to Zigzag, with enlightening comments about such matters as Cliffhangers, Point of View, Irony, and Transitions.

Book Details

  • Paperback
  • November 2000
  • ISBN 978-0-393-32124-1
  • 5.6 × 8.3 in / 288 pages
  • Sales Territory: Worldwide

Endorsements & Reviews

“Useful on the most practical level.... [Stern] plunges his readers into the middle of things.” — New York Times

“Offers a raft of examples that explain the techniques used by novelists from Flaubert to Updike—an eminently helpful and engaging writer's guide.” — Booklist

“A complete original. The warm, witty, wise voice draws you in, and you leave the book wanting to write—and knowing how.” — Jesse Lee Kercheval, director, Wisconsin Institute for Creative Writing, University of Wisconsin

“Jerome Stern has done us all a favor with this canny little book. If you are interested in writing, read it now. This is an expert writer and teacher sending his notes from the trenches. Never has caution been so exhilarating, advice so wry. I will use this book.” — Ron Carlson, author of The Hotel Eden

“Clarifies the mumbo-jumbo. For serious students of fiction, Jerome Stern is the Alpha crow. Follow him and shave the miles off your flying time.” — Bob Shacochis, author of Swimming in the Volcano

Also by Jerome Stern All

  1. Book CoverMicro Fiction: An Anthology of Fifty Really Short Stories


  2. Book CoverRadios: Short Takes on Life and Culture


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