Sunday, February 1, 2009


“This book provides solid instruction for persons who want to write and sell fiction, not just to talk and study about it. It gives the background, insights, and specific procedures needed by all beginning writers. Here one can learn how to group words into copy that moves, movement into scenes, and scenes into stories; how to develop character, how to revise and polish, and finally, how to sell the product.” ~Back blurb of book.

The contents of the book include: Fiction and you; The words you write; Plain facts about feelings; Conflict and how to build it; Fiction strategy; Beginning, middle, end; The people in your story; Preparation, planning, production; Selling your stories; You and fiction.

This book teaches writers about motivation-reaction units, scene and sequel, building conflict, building character emotions, and plotting. Each lesson in the book delves the writer into a deeper understanding of the craft. Why are these devices important for a writer to learn and utilize correctly? Let’s hear from Swain himself, “This is because said devices have proved effective in making stories enjoyable and /or enticing to readers. The selling writer, as a commercially-oriented professional, can’t afford to write copy that isn’t enjoyable and /or enticing.”

I’m going to be totally honest with you. This is by far the hardest book I’ve ever read. I’m still not quite finished with it. Every paragraph reminds me of a college text book with academic narration. However, these techniques are essential learning tools.

I think I have finally mastered the motivation-reaction units in the point-of-view character in dialogue. I thought I’d never get it. I’m now stretching my legs in learning scene and sequel techniques.

Techniques of the Selling Writer is out of print. But don’t despair. If you can’t find it on E-bay or, there are some wonderful authors who have taken the information from the book and has written it in everyday English for easier understanding.

Check out these links:

Camy Tang has a series of Dwight V. Swain articles on her Story Sensei Blog:

Randy Ingermanson, Ph.D.


  1. Thanks for the link! People can also see the full list of Swain articles here:


  2. This was the first book I bought after attending my first writers' conference. It is one of those books, you want to study again and again.


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