Book Reviews

Book Review

Writing Fiction: A Guide to Narrative Craft   

By Janet Burroway

I originally read this book because it was required reading in a Creative Writing Graduate Certificate Program I am taking.

To me, this book is like a textbook that is not a textbook. It looks and feels like a book on craft--which, of course, it is--that any writer of narrative fiction should have on their shelves.

Each chapter is divided into shorter sections that give concrete information, examples from literature that clearly illustrate the literary device or topic being discussed, and a quote that gives food for thought. At the end of each chapter, Burroway gives a suggested reading list as well as a list of six or seven writing prompts. She also included summaries for the longer, more in-depth topics of character and point of view.

This book is very well-crafted and organized, making it easy to follow. The examples and excerpts included were directly related to the specific section and effectively illustrated and clarified the topics, as were the selected stories recommended at the end of the chapters. Of course, there are many recommended stories and I have not read through them all, but from the ones I have, they seem to be well chosen.

The writing prompts were also well suited to their particular chapters and were well worded. With a minimum of six, and often seven, per chapter, I have not done them all. But I found that even the exercise of reading them carefully and mentally planning what I would write for at least one or two per chapter was a helpful exercise in itself.

I think that this book is a useful, well-written, and well organized book on the craft of narrative writing. It is a worthwhile book for writers, editors, and students of creative writing to read and then keep on their shelves as a reference.