Fiction Writer’s Workshop, by Josip Novakovich: a Review

You don’t need to wait for inspiration to write. It’s easier to be inspired while writing than while not writing. – Josip Novakovich

The Fiction Writer’s Workshop by Josip Novakovich provides an excellent resource for writers at any level of experience. With chapters on every element of fiction from plot and character to description and voice, Novakovich has written a solid overview of the writing process.

It’s great for the novice writer, building a solid foundation of the basics. Novakovich includes dozens of specific examples from numerous well-known authors such as Mark Twain, J. D. Salinger and Charles Dickens to illustrate the point of each chapter.

This book could serve the more experienced writer as a resource to refer to as needed. Each of the ten chapters are short, and center on a specific element of fiction. This enables the reader to go to a specific target area.

At the end of each chapter, Novakovich has included a dozen or more exercises to help the writer put each lesson into practice. This allows the novice to learn the craft and practice immediately. The exercises work equally well as writing prompts, helping any writer out of a stuck place, or to spark new ideas.

Josip Novakovich has published a novel, April Fool’s Day, two collections of short stories and several collections of essays. Besides Fiction Writer’s Workshop, he has also published another writing instruction book. Novakovich has received a number of awards, including the Whiting Award. He was a finalist for The Man Booker International Prize in 2013 and has been included in the Pushcart Prize and O. Henry Prize anthologies, among others. Novakovich has taught creative writing at various universities, most currently at Concordia University in Montreal, Quebec.

Overall, I consider this a useful book whatever level you’re at as a writer. I will likely keep it on my shelf and use it as a resource to refer to as needed. And the exercises will make great prompts when I need something to get me started.

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