Writing Great Fiction: Storytelling Tips and Techniques : The Great Courses: Writing

  • by The Great Courses
  • Narrated by Professor James Hynes
  • Series: The Great Courses: Writing
  • 12 hrs and 17 mins
  • Lecture

Publisher's Summary

Whether you're huddled around the campfire, composing an email to a friend, or sitting down to write a novel, storytelling is fundamental to human nature. But as any writer can tell you, the blank page can be daunting. It's tough to know where to get started, what details to include in each scene, and how to move from the kernel of an idea to a completed manuscript.
Writing great fiction isn't a gift reserved for the talented few. There is a craft to storytelling that can be learned, and studying writing techniques can be incredibly rewarding - both personally and professionally. Even if you don’t have ambitions of penning the next Moby-Dick, you'll find value in exploring all the elements of fiction.
From evoking a scene to charting a plot to revising your drafts, Writing Great Fiction: Storytelling Tips and Techniques offers a master class in storytelling. Taught by award-winning novelist James Hynes, a former visiting professor at the famed Iowa Writers' Workshop, these 24 insightful lectures show you the ins and outs of the fiction writer's craft. Get tips for developing believable and memorable characters, explore how to craft plausible dialogue that serves the purposes of your narrative, compare the advantages of different points of view, and more. A wealth of exercises will inspire you to practice the many techniques you learn. Professor Hynes is an able guide, showing you what has worked for him and other novelists, and pointing out pitfalls to avoid. Writing Great Fiction is truly an exceptional course for anyone interested in storytelling.


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Good advice and sobering truths

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This is an excellent lecture for both the beginner and for the guy working on his next book. The first half of the book was filled with the same old tips you find in most writing books. That’s not to say the tips weren’t valuable – in fact they made for a good refresher. However, it was the latter part of the lecture that I found most helpful.

I am a published (not self-published) author of a well-written (though not very successful) book that I am convinced, far exceeded my actual capabilities. I am very proud of that book but I am fairly convinced it was a fluke. Now I am currently halfway through my next book and I find myself facing the same struggles and self-loathing that I faced writing the first book.

So I found it very reassuring to know that my plight is no different than what most writers face. Listening to (most) of the second half of this lecture inspired me and gave me hope. Hope that I am just like every successful writer out there and that I too would reach my goal.

I highlight the word (most) because the last chapter of this lecture was so frank and true that I questioned why I am even writing in the first place. In the last 30min, Hynes gives a sobering and honest account of what it means to be a writer. Despite the lack of success from my first book, I am still deluded enough to believe that some day I will write the great American novel. So while Hynes’ honest conclusion may leave the listener feeling defeated, I have taken it as a call to arms. If writing were easy everyone would do it.

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- William

Like Taking a Course in the Art of Fiction

This is my first of the great courses and it definitely set the bar very high. I have my BA in Professional Writing and am currently working in an unrelated field. I've been creatively stunted and eager to get my mind back on writing.

This course is absolutely brilliant! I feel like I actually got a mini degree in fiction writing. The narrator is awesome! He walks you through all the major components of crafting a story from character to point view, plotting to research. All of the major stones are turned over and addressed in detail, citing passages from famous beloved works of fiction, many of which I have read. Those that I have not read are now on my list.

Not only does he take you through the major components necessary to write a successful work of fiction, but he also discusses the writing process, revision, the publishing industry, not to mention many insights into the writing life in his own words and in the words of many other greats.

I feel more motivated and confident as I move forward, trying to get myself back into writing again. I highly recommend this course for experienced and inexperienced writers alike. Five stars!
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- Casey

Book Details

  • Release Date: 11-14-2014
  • Publisher: The Great Courses