TEXT review

All about the craft

review by Angelina Mirabito



Janet Burroway, Elizabeth Stuckey-French and Ned Stuckey
Writing Fiction: A Guide to Narrative Craft
Pearson Publication / Longman (eighth edition) 2011
ISBN-10: 0205750346
ISBN-13: 9780205750344
Pb 432pp USD78.40


Writing Fiction: A Guide to Narrative Craft is an essential read for those committing to the act of creative writing. Assuming nothing this book gives the reader the primary colours of their craft clearly.

It is ideal for first year creative writing students. To begin a writing program having read this would prepare them for the workshopping progress and provide them with an essential understanding of tools available for them to take up while building a writing folio. It is something that can be returned to during one’s writing life, both within and outside the academy, as it tells no lies. It also is written with a love for writing which inspires rather than intimidates the reader with the daunting task of making a piece of fiction work. Stripping everything back to basic building blocks of writing, and then supporting it with a fresh selection, Janet Burroway, Elizabeth Stuckey-French and Ned Stuckey have completed an impeccable eighth edition. It’s honest, knowing, full of gifts for the writer and an enjoyable read.

While the book is not repetitious, it is full of lessons that need to be learned over and over again with each piece that one writes.  Accessible and inspiring it details the potential effects showing and telling, characterisation, place, time, story, point of view, form, plot and structure can give to a piece depending on the ways in which is it manipulated to effect. It also deals sensitively and appropriately with process and revision.  Both of which the writer develops and refines as they learn about themselves as writers. The guide shows there are no hard and fast rules, good or bad, but ways of coming to know and managing what works and doesn’t work in the process of writing and the revisions and revisits after a solid draft is written. The writer is given keys for identifying why a piece may not be working or difficult to finish and possible doors to walk through for overcoming such problems. Furthermore it shows how writing groups and feedback can be managed for the best possible outcome.

In all ways Writing Fiction: A Guide to Narrative Craft is what it claims to be, a narrative guide that respects what is required from a person creating fiction. The fact that it assumes nothing from the reader is its greatest strength, providing the writer with a loyal companion that encourages, inspires and equips its intended reader for what is needed to overcome obstacles, shadows and blank pieces of paper.




Angelina's publications include short stories in Muse, AntiTHESIS, Mascara Literary Review, SLAM Philament, Vibewire Youth Inc., poem in Page Seventeen and articles in VWC Magazine, Double Dialogues and Meanjin (March 2011). Her three hour book was shortlisted for the 2009 Lord Mayor Creative Writing Awards. She is a recipient of the Eleanor Dark Varuna Writing Fellowship and a Rosebank Residency. Angelina is a member of the ongoing Novel Writing Masterclass with Antoni Jach, Creative Writing PhD candidate at Deakin University and sessional tutor at the University of Melbourne. Christos Tsiolkas is currently mentoring Angelina with her novel Disobedience.


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Vol 14 No 2 October 2010
Editors: Nigel Krauth & Jen Webb