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The Technique of Fiction Writing   By: (1890-1959)

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The Technique of Fiction Writing is a comprehensive guide for aspiring authors seeking to enhance their storytelling skills. Authored by the experienced writer Robert Saunders Dowst, this book serves as a valuable resource for those wishing to dive into the art of fiction writing or polish their existing abilities.

One of the standout features of this book is its systematic approach to teaching the various elements of fiction writing. Dowst ensures a structured learning experience by dividing the content into twelve concise chapters, each focusing on a different aspect of the craft. Starting with the fundamentals, such as character development and plot construction, the book gradually introduces more advanced techniques like dialogue, pacing, and point of view.

Throughout the book, Dowst's writing style maintains a perfect balance between being instructional and engaging. He adeptly explicates complex concepts with clarity, making it accessible to both beginner and intermediate writers. The author enhances the learning experience by including numerous examples from renowned works of fiction, illustrating how masterful writers have utilized various techniques to create their compelling narratives.

Dowst’s emphasis on practical exercises is another commendable aspect of this book. At the end of each chapter, he provides thought-provoking prompts and exercises designed to apply the newly acquired knowledge. These exercises not only reinforce the learned concepts but also encourage creativity and critical thinking, enabling readers to develop their unique storytelling abilities.

Furthermore, Dowst highlights the importance of self-reflection and feedback in the writing process. He encourages writers to examine their own work critically, offering invaluable advice on identifying and rectifying common mistakes. Additionally, the book emphasizes seeking feedback from peers, mentors, or writing groups, presenting it as a crucial aspect of the growth and improvement of any writer.

While the book aptly covers a wide range of essential aspects of fiction writing, one slight drawback is its brevity. Some readers may yearn for a deeper exploration of certain topics or more extensive guidance. However, considering the vast scope of fiction writing, it is understandable that Dowst has chosen to provide a broad overview rather than narrowing the focus.

In conclusion, The Technique of Fiction Writing is an excellent guide for aspiring fiction writers, offering a comprehensive introduction to the craft. With its systematic approach, engaging writing style, and practical exercises, readers will find themselves equipped with a solid foundation in storytelling. Though it may leave some desires for more in-depth discussions, this book serves as a valuable tool for any writer seeking to enhance their techniques and embark on a fulfilling writing journey.

First Page:


"The one excuse and breath of art charm." Stevenson.

The Technique of Fiction Writing



Copyright, 1918 The Editor Company

Copyright, 1921 James Knapp Reeve

TO C. K. R. D.


Many books have been written on fiction technique, and the chief excuse for the present addition to the number is the complexity of the subject. Its range is so wide, it calls for so many and so different capacities in one attempting to discuss it, that a new work has more than a chance to meet at least two or three deficiencies in all other treatments.

I believe that the chief deficiency in most works on fiction technique is that the author unconsciously has slipped from the viewpoint of a writer of a story to that of a reader. Now a reader without intention to try his own hand at the game is not playing fair in studying technique, and a book on technique has no business to entertain him. Accordingly, I have striven to keep to the viewpoint of one who seeks to learn how to write stories, and have made no attempt to analyze the work of masters of fiction for the sake of the analysis alone. Such analysis is interesting to make, and also interesting to read, but it is not directly profitable to the writer... Continue reading book >>

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