27 February 2018

Review: THE WRITING BOOK, Kate Grenville

I have two editions of this book on hand.

The book was first published in 1990 and the 3rd impression, 1991, is subtitled: A Workbook for Fiction Writers. ISBN 0-04-442124-9, 192 pages

The other edition I have from the library is published in 2010, subtitled A Practical Guide for Fiction Writers. ISBN 978-1-74237-388-1, 220 pages.

Both are published by Allen & Unwin Australia.
They are essentially the same book.

Synopsis (Amazon)

The Writing Book doesn't just talk about how to write fiction; it takes you, step-by-step, through the process of doing it.

Each chapter concentrates on one aspect of writing: getting started, bringing characters to life, writing convincing dialogue, revising and writer's block, etc.

Exercises in each chapter are carefully structured so that each one builds on the one before. Examples from contemporary Australian writing demonstrate how different writers tackle the technical aspects of their art.

By working your way through this book, you'll gradually craft a piece of fiction, and develop confidence in your own fictional voice.

If you'd like to write, but you're not sure how to start, The Writing Book will show you how. If you're already writing, The Writing Book will give you practical ideas for new energy and direction.

My take

I heard this book referred to by a couple of people at a recent writing workshop that I attended. One said that he was working his way through the exercises.

The author writes "this is a practical workbook, a resource for a writer to work through, with an emphasis on exercises and examples."

Grenville encourages the budding writer to begin with what they already have and build from there.

If you are looking for a DIY at home course on writing, a challenge in concentration on honing your skills, then this may well be it. It is interestingly constructed, full of things to try, and may even result in a finished piece: a short story, a novella, or a novel.

For me it just clarified that I am a reader, not a writer.

My rating: 5.0

About the author
Kate Grenville (kategrenville.com) was born in Sydney, Australia. She's published eight books of fiction, including the multiple prize-winners 'The Secret River', 'The Lieutenant', 'The Idea of Perfection', and 'Lilian's Story'. She's also published three books about the writing process that are classic texts for Creative Writing classes, and a memoir about the research and writing of 'The Secret River'.

Grenville writes about Australia, but her themes are universal: love, violence, and survival. Her characters are often inspired by real historical characters: her own nineteenth century convict ancestor, an early Australian settler; a bag-lady on the streets of 1950s Sydney who quotes Shakespeare for a living; a soldier in the Sydney of 1788 who shares an extraordinary friendship of tenderness and respect with a young Aboriginal girl.

Grenville's international prizes include the Orange Award, the Commonwealth Writers' Prize, and a shortlisting for the Man Booker Prize. Her books have been published all over the world and translated into many languages, and two have been made into feature films. . 

I have also read 4.8, THE SECRET RIVER

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