How Fiction Works

Front Cover
Farrar, Straus and Giroux, Jul 22, 2008 - Language Arts & Disciplines - 288 pages
24 Reviews

What makes a story a story? What is style? What's the connection between realism and real life? These are some of the questions James Wood answers in How Fiction Works, the first book-length essay by the preeminent critic of his generation. Ranging widely—from Homer to David Foster Wallace, from What Maisie Knew to Make Way for Ducklings—Wood takes the reader through the basic elements of the art, step by step.

The result is nothing less than a philosophy of the novel—plainspoken, funny, blunt—in the traditions of E. M. Forster's Aspects of the Novel and Strunk and White's The Elements of Style. It sums up two decades of insight with wit and concision. It will change the way you read.


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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - wethewatched - LibraryThing

A few good nuggets of advice in here on writing. However, the author can sometimes be a bit patronizing to read -- Wood tends to assume the reader has read all the authors he believes are the greats ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - idiotgirl - LibraryThing

Okay. I finished the book. If I had rated this half way through I would probably have said 4. The early stuff about language and free indirect discourse, the way the language of a third-person ... Read full review


A Note on Footnotes and Dates
Flaubert and Modern Narrative
Flaubert and the Rise of the Flaneur
A Brief History of Consciousness
Sympathy and Complexity
Truth Convention Realism

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About the author (2008)

James Wood is a staff writer at The New Yorker and a visiting lecturer in English and American literature at Harvard. He is the author of two essay collections, The Broken Estate and The Irresponsible Self, and of a novel, The Book Against God.

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