The Art of Creating Story

Non-Fiction - General
700 Pages
Reviewed on 10/07/2020
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by Christian Sia for Readers' Favorite

The Art of Creating Story by William H. Coles answers the question: How do you write a story that people can’t put down? Written by a prolific writer, this book features a series of essays, interviews with industry professionals, and blog posts on the art of writing good fictional stories. The author articulates brilliantly on a variety of topics and shares insights and techniques on successfully handling the key components of a story. Readers will find tips on writing good plot points, character development, setting, and dialogue. The book also covers elements of style and literary techniques and how to go about writing them in a way that they fit seamlessly into the story.

The author brings his experience as a great storyteller into this nonfiction, professional book and puts into the work a system that will make the writing process easy and enjoyable for both new and seasoned writers. The book is packed with information, methodically arranged, and featuring some of the best advice with tested and proven processes from successful writers out there. From concept to creating elaborate and sophisticated characters, from writing dramatic scenes to creating momentum in the story, from connecting with readers through humor to crafting good conflict, the author provides insights and tips that will enrich the writer’s journey. The Art of Creating Story is written in simple language. William H. Coles has decided to go all out and spill his writing secrets to readers. A great tool for any author who is keen on the process and making writing a fun enterprise.

Vincent Dublado

Anyone who is serious about writing fiction should get The Art of Creating Story. William H. Coles has compiled a brilliant collection of essays, advice, interviews, blog posts, and selected short stories that are top-notch references for anyone who dabbles in fiction as an art form. His essays on the craft and elements of story-writing outline compelling principles and applications that serve as roadmaps in avoiding pitfalls that many budding fiction writers make. He reminds his audience that there are no absolutes in writing great fiction stories, but there can be awareness and avoidance of mediocrity. He is equally generous in sharing his conducted interviews with esteemed writers who share their techniques on the craft. His blog posts are downright entertaining and informative supplements to further add to your grasp of how to develop your own literary style.

A great benefit to reading The Art of Creating Story is that it is an excellent crash course on fiction writing. Regardless of your background, if you have ever considered penning a story, William H. Coles will show you the fundamentals and the right way to approach the craft. Literary terms are carefully explained and there is no overblown jargon that intimidates. Another thing that makes this book indispensable is that Mr. Coles makes you set realistic expectations. He does his best to cover everything and, as your writing guide, he will show you the path, but the rest will be up to you. This book is highly recommended for its indispensable how-tos and sincere voice in helping other writers.

Gobi Jane

In The Art of Creating Story, William H. Coles brings together a selection of essays and useful tips on crafting compelling fictional stories. It is a book about the process of creating a winning story and the author discusses the different elements that give literary life to a story, including character, narration, creating drama in the writing, crafting motivation into characters, writing dialogues that will excite readers, and a lot more. Readers will learn the techniques that can help in character creation, beefing up the action, establishing conflict, expertly writing the setting, and creating character-based plots. The book is very comprehensive and includes most of what writers need when it comes to creating good stories — voice, humor, momentum, points of view, and more. The book also features interviews from successful writers such as Robert Olen Butler, Jonathan Dee, Fred Leebron, and many others.

The Art of Creating Story is packed with advice, not only from the author, but from his peers who share their best practices when it comes to finding concepts for their work, researching, and the writing process. Anyone who wants to succeed in writing will find useful tips and advice in this book. Written in a clear, succinct, and fluent style, this book features the basic elements that writers need to create their story and make it one that readers can’t put down. It also features useful blog posts on the writing craft that are well-written and packed with useful information. William H. Coles has created a tool that will practically guide readers on their journey towards success in writing. Packed with tips, technique, and professional advice on the writing craft.

Romuald Dzemo

The Art of Creating Story by William H. Coles is a non-fiction book for writers and anyone interested in writing fiction that sells. In this book, the author shares his writing process from conceiving winning ideas to developing strong plots and characters and writing literary techniques into the story in a way that is flawless and interesting. The book features a series of essays that touch on almost everything about writing, from the important elements of the story like character, desire and motivation, dialogue, plot, and drama to the techniques of the craft when it comes to creating momentum in the story, writing points of view, the voice and time, and literary techniques like humor, and a lot more. There are professional interviews and blog posts on writing included in the collection.

I have read many books from this author, including Spirit of Want and Guardian of Deceit, and have always been fascinated by the storytelling craft and the author’s deft handling of the different elements of the stories, especially the plot, character, and the setting. This non-fiction book puts across to readers the author’s secrets and information from other writers in a style that is clear and accessible. The interviews with authors and publishing professionals are spot-on, filled with advice that will definitely help any struggling writer in their own writing endeavors. This is a good book about how to write good books. The focus is on fiction and the author delivers like an expert in the field. The Art of Creating Story is a book that I’d recommend to any writer and, as an author, I found a lot of insight and wisdom here, with techniques that are handy and effective.

Kimberlee J Benart

The Art of Creating Story by William H. Coles is a collection of almost thirty essays along with transcripts of over twenty interviews with authors, editors, and publishers on the fiction writing process. Nine original short stories provide examples of technique, and an appendix contains thirty-five blog posts on the topic. The essays, interviews, and other content cover every aspect of the storytelling art from the basics of plot, character, drama, and dialog to finer points of voice and style, from the practical to the philosophical, and from the instructive to the soul-searching. Whether you’re a wannabe writer embarking on your first attempt or a seasoned author dripping with medals, there is something valuable here for everyone. Biographies of interviewees and several illustrations are included.

William H. Coles has given us a treasure trove of information, instruction, philosophy, and advice on the art of storytelling. This isn’t a book you simply read from cover to cover and then you’re done. Much as Coles encourages authors to strive for thresholds of excellence in engagement, entertainment, and enlightenment, The Art of Creating Story engages the reader on multiple levels. Some of these are immediately helpful. Others will take time as we discover who we are as storytellers, why we write, and what we want to say. Authors must not only master the ability to write “interesting dramatic prose,” Coles tells us, but “the entangled process of purposeful storytelling.” As helpful as the essays, blog posts, and short stories are in practical terms, I found myself captivated by insights provided in the interviews. An instructive and valuable resource for any fiction writer.

Marie-Hélène Fasquel

The Art of Creating Story by William H. Coles is a comprehensive 700-page educative guide which is packed with essays, interviews with authors, editors, publishers, and even a Pulitzer Prize winner on the writing process, original short stories displaying excellent examples of what to do in order to excel at writing fictional stories, as well as enlightening blog posts. It is a must for anyone interested in literature, creativity, writing, teaching writing, well, actually it is perfect for teachers, writers (experienced or new to the calling), and of course, students!

What I particularly enjoyed when reading The Art of Creating Story by William H. Coles is that it is a perfect and concise (yes, in spite of the length) volume which allows you to peruse it as a reference book depending on your issues, on the questions you want to find an answer to. It is always easy to understand and includes such a variety of materials. I was delighted to find in this study even more than in the preceding volume by William H. Coles I read. Indeed, William H. Coles not only tells you what you must do to improve your writing or how to teach the creative process; far from that, he actually shows you! We all remember the show, don’t tell concept. Well, in this amazing volume, it is directly taught. In fact, William H. Coles shares with us drafts, examples of analysis, examples of writing, interviews so that we are given multiple stances on the concept of the creative process. To conclude, this is an absolute must if you are interested in literature!

Foluso Falaye

"There are no absolutes in writing great fictional stories, but there is awareness and avoidance of mediocrity." The Art of Creating Story is a collection of invaluable tips and suggestions that are aimed at helping writers become better at writing stories and help budding authors to learn the ropes of the profession. William H. Coles treats different topics, including how desire and motivation are used in literary fiction, basic rules of dialogue, structure and theme, characterization, fifteen competencies for creating in-scene writing, and much more. Also, several examples of different writing styles by William H. Coles and other authors are shared to help readers understand the points better. Finally, the book includes some short stories by the author and interviews with different authors, editors, and publishers.

The Art of Creating Story is an absolute gem! I now know a lot more about several techniques of writing professionally than I did before. This is a book I have to keep close to me to consult for understanding, critiquing, and writing books better. I didn't know writing was so broad. The Art of Creating Story is not a book you can just read through as it has many concepts that you would have to pause and think about to fully understand. I also enjoyed the interviews because I could relate to some of the interviewees and I learned even more about writing and publishing from them. The short stories at the end are great examples of the techniques shared earlier in the book and proof that William H. Coles practices what he preaches. Every story writer who is passionate about their art should read this!

Lesley Jones

Many people dream of becoming a writer but how can you create a story that will enlighten, engage, and entertain your reader? Discover how to structure a scene, develop and create characters that are memorable, write dialogue and narrative that are congruent to your characters. How do you build conflict and momentum that is compelling? Even if you are already a writer, the information in The Art of Creating Story by William H. Coles will concentrate on the finer details of creating a fictional story that will improve your skills and remove all the rough edges from your novels. Gain a greater understanding of what a reader desires from non-fiction to keep them engaged, spark their imagination, and really care about your characters and story. Discover if you have any hidden emotional or mental barriers that could be inhibiting your creativity. Begin to write with a clear purpose and direction to become the finest writer you can possibly be.

This bumper guide will educate you on all aspects of creating a fictional story that is both memorable and engaging. But what sets this book apart from any other in this genre is the detailed way it delves into the psychological mindset you must have to become a writer. This is superb because the focus is on building a strong literary ethos, not just creating a story. The content of The Art of Creating Story will take your writing to the next level and help you create a story that will stand the test of time and completely engage the reader. William H. Coles has included so many examples to study the concepts of plot building, point of view, descriptive narrative, and creating characters that are not boring stereotypes, plus so much more.

I loved the interview section with authors and publishers and the questions asked by William were superb. This section of the book really gives us the benefit of experts in the industry and the techniques and advice they share are invaluable. I especially enjoyed reading the interviews with Richard North Patterson and Jim Shepherd. Another favorite chapter for me was regarding Emotional Complexity. This impressive guide is comparable to how a piece of wood is shaped and polished into an amazing sculpture. I loved the short stories at the end, especially the chilling Suchin's Escape. I feel anyone can write a story, but taking on board the guidance in this book will definitely set you apart from your competitors.

Tammy Ruggles

The Art of Creating Story by William H. Coles is a massive resource for writers to appreciate and benefit from. If you like educational tools like Writer's Digest, you'll love this book. It contains essays, interviews, examples, and how-to pieces on the process of writing. Some of the topics covered include plot and how to build it, how to create characters, impactful or meaningful dialogue, drama, narrative, point of view...and that's just some of the elements the book addresses. But more than tutorials or lessons, Coles includes short stories that demonstrate the points presented, and you'll hear from a Pulitzer-Prize winner as well. It's a deep-dive adventure for the beginning writer, and a booster shot for established writers. Writers should never be so comfortable in the process that we think there is nothing more to learn or improve upon. There always is, and Coles has put a gem at your disposal. This book is the master class you've been looking for.

There is so much to like about this book and the topics; from the way Coles has assembled it, to the subjects covered; from the importance of conflict, to building a character-based plot, to expert advice from editors, publishers, and authors. This volume is one that you can read in sequence, or, if you'd rather skip around to sections that interest you most, you can do that too. Besides the basic elements you find in a lot of educational aids for writers, you'll find some rare, seldom-touched upon themes, like the author's attitude, how literary stories go wrong, and victims as characters. As a working writer of twenty years, I love the immersion into these lesser-addressed topics. This is a book you can go to time and again, and use to help you grow in your writing. Fans of Stephen King's On Writing will appreciate The Art of Creating Story by William H. Coles.

Rabia Tanveer

The Art of Creating Story by William H. Coles is a perfect guide for new and aspiring authors who want to polish their writing skills and become better writers. Author William H. Coles is a fantastic fiction writer who has written some of the best novels I have ever read. This collection of essays and accompanying example stories gently guide new authors to write stories that convey a message. Divided into essays, tips about writing, advice, interviews with different authors, and short stories, this book has everything that a budding author needs to blossom to their full potential. The author provides wholesome advice about characterization, background building, plot pace, and story building to make the process simple and much easier for readers to absorb. The addition of blog posts further explains the process of writing fiction novels and answers any questions that the reader may have.

Brilliant as always, William H. Coles outdoes himself with this book. I found this collection of essays and stories to be complete and comprehensive, something that is usually lacking in a guide for new authors. The author shares his knowledge and vital information with readers and allows them to digest the information provided before moving on. He touches upon everything that an author goes through to create a story that speaks to the hearts of readers. I found his tips to be genuine and workable. What he shares is simple textbook information at times but then he adds his spin to the description to help the reader understand the concept wholly. And the collection of stories at the end is amazing. These are the perfect example of the advice the author provides. The advice given in this book is priceless. This is a great guide for new authors and I would highly recommend it.

Emily-Jane Hills Orford

What is involved in writing the best short story? The best work of literary fiction? Is it the narrative? The characterization? How does a writer improve the craft of writing? We, as writers, are always (or, at least we should be) working on honing our writing skills. We need to consider at all times our ability to work with all the key elements of literary fiction: characterization, narration, character-based plotting, dialogue, drama, point of view, significance, revision and so much more. We may cringe at the latter necessity, revision, the bane of a writer’s existence, but it is a necessary evil, so to speak. But, we must all remember, as we work on improving our writing skills, that “Fiction is art that emerges from imagination and is created with skill, structure, and revision.”

William H. Coles’ book, The Art of Creating Story, is a mammoth work of art in itself, not to mention a very helpful tool for wannabe and established writers alike. It is a concise and complex compendium of what is involved in writing and creating a story. It might also be seen as an encyclopedia of the do’s and don’ts of creative writing, complete with detailed lessons on how to craft the most compelling story and write the best dialogue, narrative and so much more. The book begins with essays that discuss multiple writing skills. Like characterization: “Learning effective characterization for literary fiction is essential for great stories.” Good words of advice, especially considering, “Great literary fictional characters are created for a story purpose that will please a reader, and, to be most effective, are not described in exact detail from reality or imagined reality.” There is a section that includes intense interviews with great literary authors as they share their skills. And the last section is a collection of short stories that clearly demonstrate the skill set outlined in the book. A powerful tool to help all writers at any stage in their writing careers.

Liz Konkel

The Art of Creating Story by William H. Coles is the ideal resource for writers to have on their shelves. Coles delivers a breakdown of the literary story by sharing about the craft, advice, and providing useful interviews and examples. Coles delves into the breakdown of the various parts that include creating the character, narration, drama, dialogue, and action. One aspect of this book that stands out is the use of interviews Coles provides with influential sources like Lee K. Abbott, Jonathan Dee, Rebecca McClanahan, and Kirby Wilkins, and more. These interviews provide other perspectives on creating stories and writing which allows you to form your own style and opinion. Coles includes personal essays that cover a range of topics such as killing your darlings, creating great literary fiction, creating great scenes, and more.

The book is well-organized into craft, thoughts and advice, interviews, and contains an appendix that has blog posts and short stories. William H. Coles goes into the literary fiction story by delving into the basic components such as structure, theme, plot, and the breakdown of creating a character with their development, complexity, significance, and more. The book also delves into the creation of character before the writing even starts and reminds us that in literary fiction characters move the plot forward. The structure goes into in-scene vs. narrative telling which takes a look at the point of view, voice, and narration. The writing is in the form of a teaching tool with an analytic tone and approach that makes this perfect for writers honing their skills, young writers gaining more experience, and students learning. This is the ideal work for those looking to delve into the genre of literary writing and teaches them how to write suspense, how to withhold information when telling a story, and describes the difference in telling and showing action.

The book also delves into the fundamentals of dialogue with basic rules of how it advances the story, moves plot, voice, and tone, and how it adds drama. These elements make it easy for writers to gain a better understanding and as Coles covers every aspect, writers at every level can find the help they need. Coles also offers ideas for improvement in terms of dialogue and how it helps the story as a whole. The book is a resource for understanding parts of writing such as verbs, nouns, adjectives, etc., which is what makes it a great companion for a writing class. The book has humor throughout with essays like “how writers murder their darlings (and stay out of prison).” The Art of Creating Story is an easy resource for any level of writer and makes the perfect resource for those new to writing and those honing their skills.

Samantha Gregory

The Art of Creating Story by William H. Coles is a guide to creating the perfect story with a look at character, plot, and narration and how they go together to tell a great story. The author breaks down each section into an easy-to-read guide which is helpful for first-time writers, especially those who may not know where to start. I like the addition of the interviews with authors as it offers some great practical advice from people who do it for a living. Literary fiction when done right can be very profitable and can stand the test of time. The author has also added a few short stories to the book which I think are a great example of how it is done. A great way to practice skills as a writer is to do it through short stories.

William H. Coles has written an informative book with The Art of Creating Story, which would be very useful for writers who may be struggling with their writing or do not know where to start. It gives them a basic starting point that can help improve their writing and get the rules down for things like dialogue, which go a long way toward getting published. I think this book would appeal to anyone interested in the craft who wants to work as a writer or who is looking for information to help them improve. I think it could do well because it does contain some great advice which could be beneficial to authors.

Hayley Haun

The Art of Creating Story by William H. Coles is a writing help masterpiece. The massive work is loaded with priceless nuggets of literary knowledge. Get on your brain’s wetsuit and be ready to plunge into the invaluable treasures offered within. Coles leaves readers wanting for nothing. There are essays, sections on story and craft, interviews from countless authors, writing blog posts, and short stories that are great examples of literary work.

Every segment in The Art of Creating Story is useful and well thought out for those looking to improve in the literary writing scene. Coles has truly integrated his love for writing into these pages. His knowledge is awe-inspiring, and he transforms a self-help book for writers into a shining gem of his own design. No wonder he has more than several works under his belt, and for good reason too. William H. Coles is a writer through and through. He has talent.

To make a non-fiction book full of depth and life is a feat; there is so much to learn. Sometimes, it feels like it is the only writing book I’ll ever need. I am still trying to figure out what the cover of the book means. It is intriguing, to say the least, and perhaps it is what drew me to this book. A white rhino is rare (don’t quote me on that, because I may be wrong) and quite possibly, so is a true literary writer. But the great thing about life is you don’t have to go trampling through the wild to find one. All you need to do is pick up The Art of Creating Story, and you will be well on your way.

Grace Masso

In The Art of Creating Story by William H. Coles, the author defines the essential components of good fiction and teaches readers how to go about developing these elements. The main points of the book are developed in the first two parts that expose the concept of a story and the writing craft. In this book, readers will understand the place of character in literary fiction, how to successfully create drama, what it takes to write motivation into a character, and the techniques to writing characters that are real and compelling, themes that are clear and captivating, and dialogues that make the story come alive in the minds of the readers.

The first book of this author that I reviewed is the audiobook Spirit of Want, and I found it to be a great story, which is why I didn’t hesitate to pick up The Art of Creating Story. It is a goldmine for anyone who wants to excel in literary fiction. The author writes with grace and shares tips that will help readers plan their own stories and write them effortlessly. Whether they are looking to create stories with great pacing, infusing the writing with literary styles such as humor, or crafting plots that are clever and engaging, this book covers all of that. The book also features a series of interviews on writing and blog posts that are packed with useful information. There is an appendix featuring short stories, including “The Gift,” “The Amish Girl,” “The Necklace,” and others. William H. Coles’ book is a comprehensive work on how to write literary fiction, and while it offers advice on creating selling stories, it also entertains with the selection of spellbinding short stories by the author.