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

  • by The Great Courses
  • Narrated by Professor James Hynes University of Iowa Writers' Workshop
  • 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.
PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your My Library section along with the audio.


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful


I thoroughly enjoyed listening to this series of lectures which seem to cover just about anything you wanted to know about the craft of fiction beyond the basic rules of construction, grammar and spelling (it's assumed you already have those skills).

Professor Hynes is a warm, modest but clearly very knowledgeable narrator and he draws examples from across the literary spectrum - all the way from the great American and British novelists of the 19th Century to their modern counterparts. From literary masterpieces to genre fiction including "A Song of Ice and Fire" and, later on, "The Lord of the Rings". Examinations of the work of George Elliot, Virginia Woolf, Charles Dickens, and Mark Twain rub shoulders with George RR Martin, Dashiell Hammett and Hynes himself. Having such a wide range of knowledge and examples to illustrate his points demonstrates how the art of fiction, despite surface appearances, is much as it always was.

My only criticism is the lack of notes - it would have been really helpful to have had an accompanying website with handouts. Like most people (I imagine), I listened to the lectures on the move and couldn't write anything down or easily add bookmarks. However, I've learned enough just by listening to know where I need to concentrate my efforts and I can always go back to the specific lecture if needed,
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- Kev Partner

How to improve your writing and your reading

After nearly five decades of reading and enjoying fiction I thought it was high time I understood a bit more about the process of creating a good book. Professor James Hynes is a successful writer and an extremely proficient teacher. Using examples from his own works and from a diverse bunch of novelists he explains how and why great books engage and inspire their readers and the techniques used to maintain suspense and continued interest.
If you are considering writing a book, he is realistic but also encouraging. If you can master the techniques (and the exercises at the end of each chapter are a great start) then you will have all the skills necessary to embark on your own writing project and even if you only produce something for your own self-satisfaction that surely must be a reward in itself. I found this course informative but also incredibly entertaining and will be returning to listen to the professor’s wise words as time goes on.
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- Kaggy

Book Details

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