How fiction works

Front Cover
Jonathan Cape, 2008 - Literary Criticism - 194 pages
17 Reviews
In the tradition of E. M. Forster's Aspects of the Novel and Milan Kundera's The Art of the Novel, How Fiction Works is a scintillating and searching study of the main elements of fiction, such as narrative, detail, characterization, dialogue, realism, and style. In his first full-length book of criticism, one of the most prominent critics of our time takes the machinery of story-telling apart to ask a series of fundamental questions: What do we mean when we say we 'know' a fictional character? What constitutes a 'telling' detail? When is a metaphor successful? Is realism realistic? Why do most endings of novels disappoint?Wood ranges widely, from Homer to Beatrix Potter, from the Bible to John Le CarrŽ, and his book is both a study of the techniques of fiction-making and an alternative history of the novel. Playful and profound, it incisively sums up two decades of bold, often controversial, and now classic critical work, and will be enlightening to writers, readers, and anyone interested in what happens on the page.

From inside the book

What people are saying - Write a review

User ratings

5 stars
4 stars
3 stars
2 stars
1 star

Review: How Fiction Works

User Review  - Nick - Goodreads

Perhaps the worst transgression of James Wood's How Fiction works is its title. Make no mistake, this is not a book about how to write a novel. Wood never addresses plot, or pacing, or even theme ... Read full review

Review: How Fiction Works

User Review  - Chris - Goodreads

It just feels really satisfying to give him a mediocre rating. Read full review


Flaubert and Modern Narrative

5 other sections not shown

Common terms and phrases

Bibliographic information