The Fiction Writer’s Handbook by Shelly Lowenkopf – Book Review

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About the Book:

Publisher: White Whisker Books, November 16, 2012
Category: Non-Fiction, Writing, Publishing
Tour Dates: Feb 18-March 15, 2013
Available in: Print, Kindle, & Nook  336 pages
The Fiction Writer’s Handbook is the definitive volume to explain the words and phrases that writers and editors use when they talk about a work. In the highly competitive publishing world, today’s writers need to stay ahead of the competition and make every sentence count. This book will help new writers who need an understanding of the writing process, and for seasoned writers, it is a powerful tool.

About the Author:

Shelly Lowenkopf taught in the University of Southern California’s Master of Professional Writing Program for 34 years, has taught at the annual Santa Barbara Writer’s Conference since 1980, and has been guest lecturer in many schools and conferences. He is currently Visiting Professor at the College of Creative Studies, University of California, Santa Barbara, with classes in noir fiction, the modern short story, genre fiction, and developing a literary voice. Lowenkopf has served as editorial director for literary, general trade, mass market, and scholarly book publishers, seeing over 500 books through the editorial and production process. His own short fiction has appeared widely in the literary press.


Today I bring you a guest review from my husband! He read the book and wrote his thoughts as follow:

The Fiction Writer’s Handbook is interesting and different. Different refers to the way the way the book is organized. A series of discussions on specific topics are arranged in alphabetical order (“Act”; “Action is Character”; “Actioning”; “Adversary”, etc.). Each discussion has title words corresponding to other discussion headings in bold (or hyperlinked in the electronic version). The hyperlink approach works well with this organizational model.

In the “Preface For Absolute Beginners”, a fair description of the reviewer, the author recommends that you start by reading “First-Draft Strategy”, following the hyperlinks as you go, then putting the book aside and writing a first draft. The beginner is then instructed to read “Revision”, again following the links, and then revise the draft. I did find it possible to head off into the distance by following the links within the links. For example, the first link in “First-Draft Strategy” is “Manuscript” which soon brings the reader to the link for “Narrative”. The “Narrative” discussion quickly links to “Story” and from there, to “Character”. Links to “Story” and “Character” appear directly, further along in “First-Draft Strategy”.

I decided to read “First-Draft Strategy” and follow the links therein but ignore those in the linked to topic the first time. After doing that, I went back and followed them another step down the line. I following the link to “Manuscript” on first reading but didn’t follow the link from “Manuscript” to “Narrative” until I had completed “First-Draft Strategy”. If my explanation sounds a little confusing, you get the point. I’m not sure why but so far it works and I certainly cannot suggest a superior approach. I say so far because it will be a while before I complete my first draft.

Reading “First-Draft Strategy” and following the links, I soon found ideas popping into my head of ways to strengthen my characters and add layers to the conflicts in my writing. I found myself excited about the places these ideas were leading me. Combining this with some basic but important information about things like what a submitted manuscript should look like, I believe this is will prove to be a valuable resource. I anticipate continuing to discover benefits as I use the book, which I most certainly will do.
I recommend it highly.



You can see The Fiction Writer’s Handbook Tour Schedule

You can purchase The Fiction Writer’s Handbook on

Disclosure:  I received a free ecopy of The Fiction Writer’s Handbook for an honest review from Virtual Author Book I received no compensation for this post.


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