Marta Tandori


Many would-be fiction writers have sat before their computers, staring perplexed at the sea of words before them, utterly stumped at why the words that form the sentences, and the sentences that form the paragraphs, simply don’t work. Creating Literary Stories: A Fiction Writer’s Guide, by William H. Coles, would undoubtedly have shed some light on their respective dilemmas. Coles goes about demystifying and dissecting the fundamental elements of literary fiction writing in Book One with sections on character, narration, dialogue, conflict, humor, writing in scene, the first person point of view (POV), time, second-person narration and, perhaps the most important element of all, why literary stories fail. While the first section of Creating Literary Stories is about the fundamental elements in literary fiction, Book Two is more about the creation of the actual story. Coles covers the fundamentals of telling a story, the essentials of literary story writing and how a story comes to life and, finally, some thoughts on the all-important revisions.

Coles’ voice is candid and his approach totally relatable, thanks to plenty of writing samples from different perspectives in order to illustrate his points. References to timeless favorites, like Little Red Riding Hood to emphasize the importance of character, as well as to famous Shakespearean soliloquies and classics like Wuthering Heights, show not only an appreciation for a wide range of writing styles but also an awareness as to their unique elements that make them endure over time. The author clearly knows what he’s talking about: “Involving the reader is essential for story success. The reader should not feel like a mere observer, but like a part of things through emotional involvement with the characters and the drama of the story.” Most authors have a facility with language. However, that in itself does not make for the ability to write captivating fiction. Oftentimes, it takes a combination of dexterity with words and applying the fundamental elements so important to fiction writing to create a story writers would be proud to call their own. Coles gives writers those invaluable tools in Creating Literary Stories: A Fiction Writer’s Guide.