Techniques of the Selling Writer

by Dwight V. Swain

Paperback, 1981




Norman : University of Oklahoma Press, 1981.


Techniques of the Selling Writer provides solid instruction for people 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 characters, how to revise and polish, and finally, how to sell the product. No one can teach talent, but the practical skills of the professional writer's craft can certainly be taught. The correct and imaginative use of these kills can shorten any beginner's apprenticeship by years. This is the book for writers who want to turn rejection slips into cashable checks.

User reviews

LibraryThing member Miro
If I reflect on bestselling books like J.K.Rowling's "The Philosopher's Stone" or Stephanie Meyer's "Twilight", they both closely match Dwight Swain's requirements for a good commercial novel.
From interviews it seems that both Rowling and Meyer felt an overwhelming desire to write their worlds, and
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I assume that they weren't referencing "Techniques of the Selling Writer", so maybe they were just lucky to get everything right in a most natural way.
For not so talented writers, Swains "How To" book explains techniques for plot, character, emotion and pacing in order to retain the reader and avoid the worst mistakes, but it's still inevitably of greater interest to a budding novelist rather than the general book buyer.

Swain says that writing is one of the hardest ways to earn a living, which isn't a surprise, and interestingly that the inspiration of the writer's created world gives its own reward and helps in carrying a work through to completion.
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LibraryThing member McGrewc
Well written. Anyone wanting to be published should have this one in their library.
LibraryThing member ElisabethZguta
This book explains very common sense techniques to writing, all geared towards one goal - to elicit a particular reaction from the reader. The story is all about the READER - I like that, and even though this book was first released years ago, his methods still hold water. Swain explains how to
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hold the reader's attention, and make the scenes and sequels flow. #Iamwriting #stillwriting
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LibraryThing member monica67
Excellent resource for any writer. A little dated, in style and information, but there is enough material still applicable to make this a must-read.
LibraryThing member Amelia_Smith
This is definitely going into my top 3 books about writing. I doubled back and re-read passages, not just because I was tired and distracted, but also because I could instantly see the implications for various stories I've written and/or am working on. I plan to go back and take notes on most of
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the book, because there's so much in here that I feel I, personally, need to absorb. It hit all my weak points as a writer, and the author's beliefs on why writers write, and how to do your own best work pretty much coincide with my own thoughts on the matter... which I guess makes me almost 50 years out of date!

The book was published in 1965, which makes for a staggering amount of miscellany that's out of date, from the author's casual sexism to "a scientist says that a machine to play unbeatable chess would have to be 'slightly larger than the universe.'" Uh. Yeah. He had quaint little complaints about distraction in the pre-internet world. Those things aside, I think this book has the potential to do more for my writing than any other how-to-write book I've read, but it wouldn't be right for everyone.
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LibraryThing member AngelaLam
My editor suggested I read this book. I am glad I did. I learned a lot about writing that I never learned from a regular University degree. A must read for any author looking to improve their writing to sell on the commercial market.



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