Book Review: Writing Fiction – a user-friendly guide by James Essinger

Any budding authors out there? Probably. Don’t we all start out as book lovers? Anyway, if you’re ready to take the first step into writing, I have the perfect beginners guide for you.


Writing Fiction – a user-friendly guide by James Essinger 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, George Eliot and J.K. Rowling.

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.

Goodreads blurb

Writing Fiction book co


Writing Fiction is ideal for writers who are just starting out. The advice may seem basic but it is valuable – even for me as a book reviewer. From the advice given about writing books, I was able to better articulate why I didn’t like certain books (e.g. useless detail, no plants used, etc.). Not that I needed to use my own examples. This book is full of writing examples, both good and bad, from books that the wide majority or readers are sure to know.

I do have one favourite piece of advice from X. Many writers have a role model and, quite often, these role models are from times past, like Charles Dickens, an example Writing Fiction loves to use. So, many writers set out to be the next Charles Dickens, or as close as they can come. Except you can’t write a novel now in the same way that Dickens did and expect it to be successful. Times have significantly changed and so has writing. Novels were still relatively new back then and styles were being tried and tested. Dickens would have a hard time making it as an author today.

While I did find the writing style of Writing Fiction a bit abrupt in manner, overall, it is an excellent beginners’ guide that is sure to improve your work as an author.

I was sent a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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