When I first started writing flash fiction, I was lucky enough to fall into a workshop of writers who were amazing people. They had a profound influence on my writing, and without them I’m not sure where I’d be right now in my writing career. Workshops are tricky things–they can make or break you as a writer. I learned so much from these generous and talented people, and that’s a debt I will never be able to repay.
In between workshops, I ran across a book titled Fiction Writer’s Workshop by Josip Novakovich. The blurb under the title reads, “The key elements of a writing workshop; clear instruction, illustrated by contemporary and classic works, innovative exercises and methods to gauge your progress.”
It’s one of my favorites of the writing books in my library; I’ve had it and used it for close to fifteen years. The exercises are excellent, with chapters on sources, setting, character, plot, POV, dialog and scene, beginning and endings, description and word choice, voice, and revision. There are 127 exercises in all, and you can take them in a linear way or pick and choose.
Participating in a workshop can be a most amazing experience, but it does take time and effort. And a workshopping environment isn’t for everyone. This book fills the gap nicely, and I highly recommend it for both beginners and old-timers, because while beginners thirst for knowledge, you are never too old to learn something new.
From the introduction:
“As a writer you need a strong sense of independence, of being and thinking on your own–so go ahead, work alone. I will give you a lot of advice, but you need not take it. Especially when you disagree, you will formulate your own principles. No matter what advice I suggest in this book, which is designed to be a fiction workshop you can attend on your own, you ought to write freely. Ought and free don’t seem to fit together, and that’s another paradox of writing: If you can incorporate several writing principles and yet retain and even advance your independence of writing, you’ve got it made.”
Do you have any favorite books on writing fiction? Please share in the comments!