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How to Write Best Selling Fiction Hardcover – Sep 1981

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 16 reviews
30 of 31 people found the following review helpful
By "justicewriter" - Published on
Format: Hardcover
I like the premise that Koontz starts with here: that your goal as a writer should be to have as many people as possible read your book. That is my goal as a writer, and I found the book incredibly helpful and insightful. Obviously, Koontz knows what he's talking about, with millions of books in print.
This is a very practical guide: long on examples and practical lists and short on voodoo and magic. Koontz breaks writing down into understandable pieces, whereas some writing books I've read spend far too much time on touchy-feely things that are hard to understand or emulate.
There is much practical advice here, not only in the writing of best-sellers, but also in the business of books, dealing with contracts and agents, etc. There's even a reading list of books and authors that will inspire the aspiring novelist.
My one complaint is that, even in the 20 years since this was written, the publishing industry has changed dramatically. I would LOVE to see Koontz update this tome with a 21st century edition, addressing some of the changes he's seen in the course of his career. I'd also like to see an updated reading list...I wonder which authors Koontz would praise now?
An excellent resource for writers, even if you have to pay quite a bit for it!
16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
Terric! Great! Aug. 23 2007
By Daniel - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
OK, I have been changing my review for this book a couple of times.

The first time I considered it was a three stars book because I was expecting someting else. Then I read the book again and I changed my mind about it. This is the third time I read it, and now I can say this book is mind blowing. If you want to write bestsellers this as a good place to come and learn.

I just love how the author defends commercial writing and puts it above the so-called "literature". In recent times I've come across people and schools that look down at commercial writing. They believe their "artful writing" is much more valuable. I think not. Koontz proves his case by talking about some of the most successful writers of all times. Does Dickens sound familiar? Well, he's just one example of many.

Also, there are hidden jewels in this text. For example, I bought a dvd workshop that talks about a very exclusive method to develop plot. This workshop claims that you will find this method in very few places. They sell this workshop with some degree of hype. Well, Koontz explains the whole thing in a couple of pages -no hype, just the truth about plot points common to all good selling fiction. So, with Koontz you get the very best information on how to grow a plot without hype.

Another example of the secrets in this book has to do with methodology. Like it or not, methodology is the most difficult aspect to grasp when writing. How does a writer create? How does a writer come up with story ideas? Well, I have had to search in many books on this topic. After searching a lot I found some very good ideas on the best methods to write stories. Then I came back and read Koontz again, and guess what? Yes! Some of those methods are right here.

I really don't know why the first time I read Koonts work I didn't see how rich and valuable it was. It has gone way up in my list of favorite creative writing books. It is now close to "Techniques of the Selling Writer" by Swain -which is still the best book I've found on creative writing so far.

Now, as time has passed I can see why many people like it. If you ask me, all I can say is that the book is not so much about technique. The book does address some techniques but the real main subject of this book is a way of thinking about good selling fiction. The author presents a series of arguments to support his idea of what he calls "main stream fiction". On the one hand there are "academic creative writing" books. Koonz gives reasons why you should run on the opposite direction when ever that approach to writing is trying to influence you. On the other hand, there are "formulaic genre books" such as mystery novels, romance novels, etc. Koonz gives reasons why you should not under any circumstance choose that path.

Without "academic fiction" and "genre fiction" what do we have left? Main stream fiction. The rest of the book is an explanation of how main stream fiction differs from "academic fiction" and "genre fiction".

In some ways this book has high dosses of Zen for writers. It is about your approach to writing and how to turn your writing into the most popular writing it can ever be.

Table of content.

1. A brief explanation of the author purpose.
2. Writing the great American novel.
3. The changing marketplace.
4. Creating and structuring a story line.
5. Action, action, action.
6. Heroes and heroines.
7. Creating believable characters.
8. Achieving plausibility through believable character motivation.
9. Background.
10. Grammar and Syntax.
11. Style.
12. Two Genres: Science Fiction and Mysteries.
13. A few more pitfalls to avoid.
14. Selling what you write.
15. Read, read, read.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
A Great Book on Writing, but No Longer in Print Oct. 29 2006
By Thriller Lover - Published on
Format: Hardcover
This is a great book on writing that was written by Dean Koontz when he was a relatively unknown 35-year old writer of paperback suspense novels. This book was written in 1981 and is no longer in print. It is very difficult to find, and old copies can sell for over a hundred dollars.

In HOW TO WRITE BEST SELLING FICTION, Koontz offers solid advice on how to create a good plot, interesting characters, good dialogue, and fast-paced action sequences. He also offers some common sense advice on how to write a popular novel that is marketable. This book is VERY well written and is just as good as Stephen King's ON WRITING in my opinion.

Koontz also offers a lengthy chapter where he offers his honest opinion on many of the famous writers of his day. I found this section quite fascinating to read. Throughout this book, Koontz also discusses his own past history as a writer, making this the closest thing to a memoir that Koontz has ever written.

I know quite a few established writers who were heavily influenced by this book. Is it worth one hundred dollars? Probably not. Given dramatic changes in the book industry, parts of this book are severely out-of-date. I recently read an interview with Dean Koontz where he admitted as much, which may explain why this book has been out of print for such a long time.

Unfortunately, Koontz has no current plans to update this book, so your best bet is to look for this book in your local library, which is where I found my copy.
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
required reading for writers Dec 7 2002
By David Group - Published on
Format: Hardcover
This is the Bible for anyone who wants to write good commercial fiction. His no-b.s. approach to writing is refreshing in an area filled with mediocre books. This book may be expensive and hard to find (it should be updated, or at least brought back in print), but is well worth the effort in tracking it down, as much of what he says is still valid.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Classic Timeless Advice For Any Fiction Writer July 27 2006
By W. Terry Whalin - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Dean Koontz is a master at his storytelling craft. This book has been read and re-read as it's been on my shelf for more than 20 years. The advice has stood the test of time and it's invaluable for any fiction author.

In the first chapter, Koontz provides three key reasons why this book is worth your time.

"1. I am going to point out a couople of hundred pitfalls into which new writers always fall. I fell into every one of them, and I still have a few bruises to prove it. If my warnings help you avoid just a few of those traps, or if I am able to help you climb out of them more quickly than you otherwise might, you will probably save weeks, months, even years in your struggle to obtain the goals you have set for yourself.

2. This book will be more blunt and more honest about the hows and whys of marketing fiction than any book has ever been before. I will tell you about the strengths, weakness, successes, and failure of editors and publishers. I will tell you about the strengths that make a writer succeed, and I will warn you about the weaknesses and self-delusions that cause some writers to fail. I will lead you through the maze of book contracts and explain some of the more insidious and odious clauses that publishers try to slip past unwary authors. In the process, some myths will be shattered, including the one which would have you believe publishing is a refined, sensitive, gentlemanly business.

3. One of the most valuable things to be obtained from a book of this sort is the knowledge that you are not alone in your madness, that your obsession with words and stories is not as rare as you think. There are others of us who share your burning if somewhat irrational need to write and publish fiction."

Get this book. It's priceless.