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Many Genres, One Craft: Lessons in Writing Popular Fiction Hardcover – May 15 2011

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Headline Books (May 15 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0938467085
  • ISBN-13: 978-0938467083
  • Product Dimensions: 3.8 x 18.4 x 26.7 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 794 g
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #2,047,328 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

In Many Genres, One Craft, award-winning author Michael A. Arnzen and Heidi Ruby Miller gather the voices of today's top genre writers and writing instructors alongside their published students. It fosters the writing process in a way that focuses almost exclusively on writing the novel. Using a compilation of instructional articles penned by well-known authors affiliated with Seton Hill University's acclaimed MFA program in Writing Popular Fiction, the book emphasizes how to write genre novels and commercially appealing fiction. The articles are modeled after actual "learning modules" that have successfully taught students in the program how to reach a wider audience for over a decade.

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Most helpful customer reviews

Format: Hardcover
Brilliantly put together by Michael A. Arnzen and Heidi Ruby Miller, Many Genres, One Craft is a step by step guide to instruct and aide a author in developing their writing skills and genre. This book is wonderful, and I can't gush enough about the thought that went into each section, from writing children's fiction to the heart-stopping romance! Granted, we all need our muse that taunts and teases us with our storylines--sometimes, though, she needs a good push from an excellent guidebook of her own!
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 15 reviews
17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
nothing else like it Dec 18 2012
By James P. Kain - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I teach a creative writing course and I am always looking for new texts to use. Most of the "How to" books on fiction seem typical and are becoming more and more tedious for today's young writers. When I found this book (a colleague who knows the editor recommended it to me), right away I knew this was different. The chapters are short, practical, realistic and inspiring. They cover topics that I haven't found in other writing texts (at least not compiled in the same text).

The thing that struck me most, though, was the enthusiasm and spirit of the authors. Clearly they were having fun writing this -- such a refreshing tone compared to the typical text -- which ranges from pedantic (full of themselves) to oh-so-serious to bored with themselves. This one puts a smile on my face. And I wasn't wrong to select it. The students in my class this semester "loved" the book (their word, not mine). It's rare for students to tell me they love the textbook; so I'd say this one has something special to offer today's writers. Each chapter gave us insightful talking points which generated a lot of discussion about the writing process and publishing field.

For others thinking of using this in a course, I would note that it is not full of exercises or activities to generate writing -- it's not that kind of text. I supplemented it with a collection of writing prompts. This combination worked well together: one to practice writing and the other to learn about and discuss the process.

I recommend this one.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
A bedside companion for all writers! May 5 2011
By rose - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Brilliantly put together by Michael A. Arnzen and Heidi Ruby Miller, Many Genres, One Craft is a step by step guide to instruct and aide a author in developing their writing skills and genre. This book is wonderful, and I can't gush enough about the thought that went into each section, from writing children's fiction to the heart-stopping romance! Granted, we all need our muse that taunts and teases us with our storylines--sometimes, though, she needs a good push from an excellent guidebook of her own!
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
A Book for Every Writer May 27 2011
By W. D. Prescott - Published on
Format: Hardcover
If you are a writer, new or seasoned, you know exactly how many different kinds of books are out there to help you with craft. Not only that, but then there are all the books by different authors telling you how they write.

"So, what is special about this book?" I hear you say.

There is a lot that is special about it. First, it is a primer for the experience of a MFA program. Which makes sense as it is a product of the Seton Hill University Writing Popular Fiction program. Every essay is written by either published alums, current or former mentors and teachers of the program, and special guests that visited during a Residency. You can see a whole list of the contributors at the book's website. As you read each of them, you realize that, while you have a succinct essay, the depth of knowledge and understanding in them can in many cases be deeper than whole books written on that same subject. I would almost consider them the teachers notes to a complete course.

Second, while it comes from a genre fiction background, it's a book that any writer will find helpful. The title states this to the reader. The first section of the book is about the craft of writing. No matter what you write, this unifies writers of every ilk. Each essay always goes that small step further than any other on the subjects of style, characters, setting, plot, etc., if not completely original. One such essay of the later is "Don't Be a Bobble-Head, and Other Bits of Guidance" by Timons Esaias. Just reading it over not only will strengthen your own writing, but see how frequently even the best writers of any field make simple mistakes.

The last section of the book is all about the life of the writer. I think this is the most important section of the book, because no one tells you it actually like to be a writer. What you have to do, what you have to think of each day. Most people see writing simply as an art. It is that, but it is also a profession. Just about every other field will teach you consciously or unconsciously teach you about that profession in conjunction with education in that field. A trade mark of the Seton Hill WPF program of teaching it studies about the publishing industry is branded into this book by doing the same for its reader. Tips for promotion, getting an agent, getting reviewed (and dealing with it), finding time to write, and more will help every kind of writer know how to make sure there work gets the attention it deserves in every stage: from idea to published text.

Finally, even it genre section is useful to even those who feel they write "literary" or "contemporary" fiction. Both informative and instructive, each essay explains conventions of all the genres. They are not "how-to write X genre" essays, but even deeper craft essays. Mary SanGiovanni's essay, "Dark and Story Nights: Mood and Atmosphere in Horror," while a terrific treatise on atmosphere key role in horror fiction, can be used in situations outside of horror. Albert Wendland's "Description on the Edge: The Sublime in Science Fiction" can be a key text for any writer on understanding how to describe in a story that feels natural, like the reader feels like they are in the story. Even writers of contemporary fiction have to describe things, places, and more that their readers don't know. They have to be just as effective a science fiction and fantasy writers describing what doesn't exist.

At a time where not everyone can afford numerous books to help there writing, there is a need for an all purpose book. This is it and probably the best one out there. But it is also something else. It is a testament to the fact that no genre is better, more special, or more worthy than any other. Literature is literature and it's practitioners must have all the same skills to be successful and entertaining to the world audience.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
a Master of Arts degree in itself June 22 2012
By J. Gunnar Grey - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Writers, if you only buy one book on wordsmithing, make it this one. The MA/MFA program in Writing Popular Fiction at Seton Hill University has a well-earned reputation for graduating story craftsmen, writers who wow, and this engaging textbook includes excellent writerly advice, not only from instructors but also from numerous published graduates. You can check the full list above, but it includes four-time Bram Stoker winner Michael A. Arnzen, Maria V. Snyder (Poison Study), mystery writing with Victoria Thompson (the Gaslight series), Kaye Dacus (Ransome's Honor (The Ransome Trilogy)), and some amazing indie writers such as Heidi Ruby Miller and Jason Jack Miller (magical realism).

[Disclaimer: yep, I'm a graduate. So sue me.]

Writing's a massive topic. Many Genres, One Craft breaks it down into short, manageable chapters, each a comfortable read, and I've spent the last year reading a chapter every few days and thinking it over in between. Did I absorb it all? Shoot. Who could? And while I don't necessarily agree with everything I've learned (bobble-headism is occasionally useful and shouldn't be written off entirely, IMO), there's no doubt what I have absorbed will only help my writing. Besides, it was like the greatest reunion ever.

Five strong stars.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Great instruction Dec 22 2012
By J. Keith Jones - Published on
Format: Hardcover
This fine volume is essentially a condensed MFA in Writing between two covers. Those contributing to this anthology of writing advice are affiliated with the MFA program at Seton Hill University. Professors, graduates and visiting lecturers all added their articles of the best writing advice. If you believe that they cobbled together some obscure academics and graduates whose greatest accomplishment is their MFA to slap together some quick articles, you are quite wrong. Among the authors are many award winners and a number of highly acclaimed writers you would be familiar with. Names such as: Tess Gerritsen (Rizzolli & Isles), David Morrell (First Blood/Rambo) and Lawrence C. Connolly (Borderlands), as well as many others; fill out this book.

This is a must have for all who take up the pen - or keyboard - whether it be for a living or as an impassioned hobby. Many articles fill out sections on style, characterization, plotting and setting about the craft of writing as well as sections on the many genres. Romance, Science Fiction, Horror, Mystery, Thrillers and Childrens' books are all covered. Then to complete the volume, the subjects that leave writers wondering where to start or asking what to do next are covered. Learning, Working and Promoting are all worthwhile sections.

I have barely scratched the surface of all this book covers. I highly recommend that you pick up a copy of this and keep it handy. Any time you feel weak in any area of your writing, a quick thumb-through will yield an article that will almost certainly strengthen your efforts.

Reviewed by J. Keith Jones
Author of "In Due Time" & "The Boys of Diamond Hill"