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Swain has the credentials to know what he's talking about here. These are recordings of a series of lectures at a writers conference, I presume. They suffer from age a bit, the fact that he seems to refer to slides we the listener can't see, and rather than discussing general concepts, sometimes forces definitions that don't always work. Nevertheless, he does know what he's talking about and will no doubt job your memory as a writer to strengthen your characters, tighten the action, and revise ruthlessly.
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Might be good for an author just starting out. Might be good for authors who feel stuck and could use a nudge. The best part is you can listen while driving your car. Dwight Swain published a lot of fiction as well as some how-to-write books. This audiobook is two lectures he gave around 1991 for writer workshops.
Many of his thoughts are simple and obvious. Example: every story has a beginning, a middle, and an end. But I could see the following. Someone is writing a book and is kind of stuck, so they listen to this tape. Then they think oh yeah, I could try this, or I should do that. Then they would go back to their writing. I see it as a jog for writers.
A few thoughts from the lecture:
Alfred Hitchcock quote: Drama is life with the dull parts left out.
The strength of your villain is the strength of your story. The bad guy is ruthless to get what he wants, even if it is just the corner office.
Every chapter needs a climax (disaster, crisis). Authors should stretch out the climax scenes. A disaster could be winning the lottery. Disasters don’t have to be bad.
The main character wants something. It could be relief from a boss, change in climate, revenge...
A story is a record of how somebody deals with danger.
Books on the craft of writing:
I purchased and started reading Swain’s book “Techniques of the Selling Writer” published in 1965. I couldn’t get into it. It reads like an encyclopedia. But for some, that could be good.
I loved the following two books that I think would be useful to all fiction writers. “Stein on Writing” by Sol Stein and “On Writing” by Stephen King.
Genre: nonfiction, how to write.
3 of 3 people found this review helpful