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 at all times clear and direct Stein explains here, “This is not a book of theory. This is a book of usable solutions–how to fix writing that is incorrect, how to beef up 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, the use of the techniques of fiction to enliven nonfiction, and more.
“The best reading experiences,” says Sol Stein, “defy interruption.” With Stein’s assistance, you’ll grab your reader on page 1 and not let go until “The End.” Stein–writer of nine novels (including the bestselling The Magician) and editor to James 1st earl baldwin of bewdley, 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, This 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 need the world to keep in mind that 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