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The Language of Fiction
A Writer’s Stylebook
Brian Shawver




UPNE
2013 • 264 pp. 6 x 9"
Creative Writing / Language Style Manuals / Language Reference

$19.95 Paperback, 978-1-61168-330-1
$17.99 Ebook, 978-1-61168-331-8

Check your ebook retailer or local library for ebook availability.



"In the 18 chapters of his new style manual for writers, Shawver advocates for functional grammar: technical knowledge not simply for the sake of correctness but for greater artistic consciousness." —Kansas City Star

This is not your grandfather’s style guide

Grand themes and complex plots are just the beginning of a great piece of fiction. Mastering the nuts and bolts of grammar and prose mechanics is also an essential part of becoming a literary artist. This indispensable guide, created just for writers of fiction, will show you how to take your writing to the next level by exploring the finer points of language. Funny, readable, and wise, this book explores the tools of the fiction writer’s trade, from verb tenses to pronouns to commas and beyond. Filled with examples from the best-seller lists of today and yesterday, it will help you consider the hows and whys of language, and how mastery of them can be used to achieve clarity and grace of expression in your own work.

Here, you’ll find

Encouragement and advice to face the big questions: Past or present tense? Comma or semicolon? Italic or roman? Should your dialogue be phonetically rendered, or follow standard rules of grammar? (And where does that pesky quotation mark go, again?)

Warning signs of the betrayal of language, and ways to avoid it: Unwitting rhymes, repetition, redundancy, cliché, and the inevitable failure of vocabulary

How-to (and how-not-to) examples: The grammatical “mistakes” of Charles Dickens; ambiguous pronoun usage by Nathaniel Hawthorne; the minefield of paragraph fragments found in one of today’s most successful authors.

Click here for TABLE OF CONTENTS

Reviews / Endorsements

“Many writers erroneously believe that the mechanics of language are subordinate to fiction’s ideas, but Shawver argues precisely the opposite in this direct and clearly written guide to the craft of writing. . . . With a wealth of examples from fiction across genres and time periods, Shawver’s guide will be indispensable for those who are beginning to write or want to improve their prose. . . . Highly recommended.”—Choice

“Shawver is an inviting, openhearted writer. His book is in no way a fustian treatise. Instead, it gently and logically sets forth the possibilities available to someone constructing prose and weighs in on how a wordsmith might sort through the options to arrive at a formulation that supports a desired meaning and tone. He doesn’t come out and say it, but his goal is to lead writers on a path to a distinctive style informed by good taste. He proves such an engaging companion on the page that any serious reader should delight in what he has to say—and any aspiring writer would be foolish not to listen.”—Santa Fe New Mexican

“Shawver is consistently clear, thorough, and humorous, the humor rooted in humble self-effacement and in poking fun at his subject’s driest patches. He comes across as friendly and passionate. As one of my students noted, he does the best anyone can possibly do with material that beginning writers might find dull. As another student said, ‘He sounds like a professor you’d want to take a class with.”—Green Mountains Review

“The rare stylebook you really want to read, cover to cover, for curiosity and pleasure. Shawver makes the basic rules of usage plain—the better to break them, when the need arises, with vigor and poise.”—Salvatore Scibona, author of The End, a National Book Award nominee, and selected as one of The New Yorker “Fiction Writers to Watch: 20 under 40”

“I know of no other book on the market that covers the nitty gritty ‘math’ of creative writing. Shawver manages to put into words rules that many of us have only a vague sense, and he illustrates the importance of such rules even when one is writing ‘creatively.’ It’s not just any book that can gracefully offer us not only the existence of a word like ‘leornungcnihtas,’ but its relevance, roots and uses, too. Anyone who loves language will love this book.”—Rachel Louise Snyder, author of Fugitive Denim and What We’ve Lost Is Nothing

“Carefully planned, much needed, and written in a warm and accessible style.”


—Eileen Pollack, University of Michigan MFA Program in Creative Writing


“One of the things I find most impressive is the sheer range of materials Shawver brings to bear on his topic—the best uses of the English language for fiction writers. Shawver is not only knowledgeable about the literature of writing fiction; he uses more and a broader range of primary sources for his examples of grammatical and usage principles than I have seen elsewhere. Appropriately, he is not working with little-known material, but often with well-known material that he applies with precision and originality.”—Robert J. Begiebing, professor of English emeritus at Southern New Hampshire University



BRIAN SHAWVER is an alumnus of the prestigious Iowa Writers’ Workshop. He is the author of the novels The Cuban Prospect and Aftermath. He currently lives in Kansas City, Missouri, where he teaches at Park University.



Wed, 2 Aug 2017 09:09:08 -0500