#Review “Writing Fiction: A User-Friendly Guide” by James Essinger



3.5/5 Stars

“It is easy to write. Just sit in front of your typewriter and bleed,” is a quote attributed to Hemingway, and most writers would concur… writing is not easy.

Even writers born with a natural talent to tell a story or turn a phrase know there are still rules to learn and follow—how else can you correctly break them?

But perfecting one’s writing craft is an ongoing endeavor. No matter if a novice or bestselling author, there’s always room for growth and improvement.  The right resources are key in keeping a writer on-track.

Writing Fiction: A User-Friendly Guide is a good starting point. It goes into details on things like devising a plot, using an outline, character development and the importance of editing. The author is knowledgeable in writing fiction, nonfiction and publishing, and shares some of his experiences in these areas.

However, this guide would work better for me if it stuck closer to the meat and potatoes of writing and less to comparisons of successful works.

Don’t get me wrong, any credible writing resource must have examples and/or writing samples. But I believe resources can lean too heavily on what’s been done and how it was done. That results in the successful works becoming the focus and structure instead of writing guidelines which can apply to any work of fiction.

Writing Fiction: A User-Friendly Guide contains much wisdom and would be a helpful addition in a writer’s toolbox as a companion guide to outlining a novel.


‘Writing Fiction is a little pot of gold… Screenplay by Syd Field for film, Writing Fiction by James Essinger for fiction. It’s that simple.’

William Osborne, novelist and screenwriter

Writing Fiction – a user-friendly guide is a must-read if you want to write stories to a professional standard.

It draws on the author’s more than thirty years of experience as a professional writer, and on the work and ideas of writers including:

  • Anthony Burgess
  • Joseph Conrad
  • George Eliot
  • Ken Follett
  • Frederick Forsyth
  • Dan Harmon
  • Ernest Hemingway
  • David Lodge
  • Norman Mailer
  • John Milton
  • Ben Parker
  • K. Rowling
  • William Shakespeare
  • Martin Cruz Smith
  • R.R. Tolkien

The twenty-four chapters cover every important matter you need to know about, including: devising a compelling story, creating and developing characters, plotting, ‘plants’, backstory, suspense, dialogue, ‘show’ and ‘tell’, and how to make your novel more real than reality.

Also featuring special guest advice from legendary screenwriter Bob Gale, who wrote the three immortal Back to the Future movies (1985, 1989 and 1990), and novelist and screenwriter William Osborne, whose many screen credits include the co-writing of the blockbuster  Twins (1988), this highly entertaining book gives you all the advice and practical guidance you need to make your dream of becoming a published fiction writer come true.

Purchase Links

Amazon UK

Amazon US


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