Telling Stories

Telling Stories

Practical ideas for improving your writing.

Telling Stories covers most areas of writing short fiction, novels and memoirs. It has sections on structure, characterization, detail, point of view, language and revision. It also has a short section on the writing life, which includes how to start writing and defeat writer’s block.

The author uses many quotes from contemporary fiction to show rather than just tell the reader how the skills he is discussing are used. Since the author is a creative writing teacher, he also explains how his students improved their writing by applying his tips. Exercises and writing prompts are sprinkled liberally throughout the book.

Reading with the goal of improving the style and structure of my book reviews, this is my first writing manual. So the book contains many ideas that are fresh to me. However, this book seems geared to newbies like myself rather than to experienced writers or even those who have read a few similar writing guides previously. The author’s homey, “I’m talking directly to you” style is refreshing. There is none of the “I know everything and you know nothing” effect of many works of instructional non-fiction. The structure is well-organized from simple to complex themes that are ordered in the way that a writer would create a piece. Telling Stories is a solid 3 and a half stars rounded up to 4.

Thanks to the publisher, University of Nebraska Press, and netgalley for an advanced review copy.

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