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Extended Audio Sample Stein on Writing Audiobook, by Sol Stein Click for printable size audiobook cover
4.00100502512563 out of 54.00100502512563 out of 54.00100502512563 out of 54.00100502512563 out of 54.00100502512563 out of 5 4.00 (995 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Sol Stein Narrator: Christopher Lane Publisher: Blackstone Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: June 2005 ISBN: 9781455180257
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Sol Stein was the Chief Editor at Stein and Day publishers for 27 years and edited such greats as George Orwell, James Baldwin and Dylan Thomas. So Stein on Writing: A Master Editor Shares His Craft, Techniques, and Strategies is culled from experience and provides a no-nonsense guide to what should go and what should stay in any manuscript.

Stein is very detail-oriented when it comes to writing, and he shows the budding author exactly how to phrase little things so that they have a big impact. In his chapter, "How to Show Instead of Tell," he explains the difference between showing and telling, something that every author ought to know. He goes on to explain how there can be different levels of showing. For example, the sentence, "He took a walk" tells, but the sentence, "He walked the four blocks slowly" shows things more clearly. However, "He walked as if against an unseen wind, hoping someone would stop him" shows even more clearly, giving you insight into the character's mind.

In addition to such great advice about pumping up the little details, he also has recommendations about plotting and characterization. He takes an exercise from the Playwright Group of the Actor's Studio and teaches you how to create instant conflict in your work. He's a big believer in keeping things taut and streamlined, as indicated by his chapter on "Liposuctioning Flab," and maintaining the velocity of your writing is addressed in "Amphetamines for Speeding up Pace."

Stein on Writing contains advice for writers of fiction and non-fiction alike, and Stein even points out how non-fiction writers can borrow techniques used by fiction writers to improve their writing. Stein is ruthless when it comes to editing, telling writers to get rid of entire chapters if they are weak. However, his novel idea that editing is like triage helps you to figure out which parts of your book have life and which parts are lacking in vitality.

If one were just telling, one would say that Stein's book is a good resource for writers. However, if you follow Stein's advice of showing rather than telling, it would be appropriate to say that Stein's short and snappy manual will transform the most colorless manuscript into a captivating, provocative book.

Sol Stein was born in 1926 in Chicago, but his family soon moved to New York where he attended City College New York which gave a free education at the time. He also served in the army during the second world war and returned to do a Master's in English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University. He was involved in the fight against McCarthyism and edited the book McCarthy and the Communists, written by James Rorty and Moshe Decter. The book is said to have been instrumental in unseating Senator McCarthy. Stein also started Stein and Day publishers with his wife Patricia Day; the firm published a hundred books a year until it was forced to close down. Stein himself is the author of nine novels and three books of non-fiction.

Stein on Writing provides immediately useful advice for writers of fiction and nonfiction, whether newcomers or accomplished professionals. As Sol Stein, renowned editor, author, and instructor, explains, “This is not a book of theory. It is a book of usable solutions—how to fix writing that is flawed, how to improve writing that is good, how to create interesting writing in the first place.”

With examples from his bestsellers as well as aspiring students’ writing, Stein offers detailed sections on characterization, dialogue, pacing, flashbacks, liposuctioning flab, the “triage” method of revision, using the techniques of fiction to enliven nonfiction, and more. This is an essential guide for writers at every level.

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Quotes & Awards

  • Stein on Writing is the best book on writing that I have read…The tips, shortcuts, and plentiful examples of good writing versus bad cannot fail to help every writer, no matter at what stage he finds himself.”

    Barnaby Conrad, New York Times bestselling author

  • “Offers a banquet of savvy advice...Stein aims not to help his readers wrestle with writerly anguish; rather, he gets on the page, citing examples from writers famous and fledgling, closely analyzing first sentences, creation of character, plotting, and dialogue.”

    Publishers Weekly

  • “This book can jump-start anyone’s creativity. Highly recommended for all writing collections.”

    Library Journal

  • “[Stein] went over my manuscript with an ifallible eye for the soft spots in my prose, giving me one of the best editorial readinds I've ever had.”

    Lionel Trilling, author of The Middle of the Journey

  • “A practical guide for writers by a master editor who has worked with such figures as Dylan Thomas, James Baldwin, and Jack Higgins covers character development, speeding up the pace, applying the Actors Studio Method, and creating suspense and tension.”

    Ingram

Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Phyllis Porche | 2/17/2014

    " Awesome book! As a writer of both fiction and nonfiction I found numerous ways to improve my writing. I listened to the audiobook and many times I found myself rethinking parts of my novel while listening to Stein's advice. So much so, that I had to rewind and relisten (after jotting down my notes, that is). A great book for any writer! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Matthias | 2/15/2014

    " the best book i've read on writing. great ideas given in such a way that you can immediately apply them to your work. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Michael Jones | 2/14/2014

    " I don't necessarily agree with the author's perspective, and there is some inappropriate content, but his ideas about writing good dialogue and keeping a story moving are worth very much to a writer. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Laurie | 2/11/2014

    " I'm about halfway through this book and pretty disappointed with it so far, though it was recommended by a writer I respect. Stein's examples of "good" writing seem pretty hacky to me and often when he's explaining something, his logic seems really flawed to me. Still plugging through it. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Rebecca | 2/1/2014

    " This is what a writing class should be- but almost never is. Stein taught me more about writing than anything since...reading! For fiction writers of all genres I cannot recommend the book highly enough. (Nonfiction help is included as well, but as I'm not a nonfiction writer, I cannot comment on that.) "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Seth | 1/24/2014

    " Great tutorial on writing. The book isn't just for fiction authors. I wish it had more instruction on characterization and plot building. The brevity is also the strength of the book. Stein encourages and even inspires writers to take pride in their work. I found some of the editing exercises to be immediately helpful. The book surveys many areas where authors struggle the most. The advice is detailed enough to be useful yet clearly explained. For example, Stein suggests using adjectives and adverbs sparingly. However, he doesn't outlaw the usage. This could cause confusion for a reader as to when the use of these modifiers are appropriate. In order to educate, he provides multiple examples of good and bad usage. The reader is challenged to edit as many adjectives and adverbs from each example. The exercise makes the point much better than a mechanical explanation could. Stein is accessible, practical, and encouraging. Its a very valuable manual for aspiring writers. I couldn't absorb all the advice on the first read. Thus, its a book deserving of multiple reads. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Mary Gray | 1/19/2014

    " It's all about character eccentricity. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Arlene Walker | 1/18/2014

    " This How-To book is nearly 20 years old, but still has good writing advice. Recommended for writers. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Robert Evert | 1/16/2014

    " Stein on Writing and Stephen King's On Writing are probably the best books on the craft of writing that I've read. Using his own work and the work of others, Stein shows the biggest problems most writers have and proposes solutions. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Leila McGrath | 12/14/2013

    " This is considered the best guide on writing craft. It is so deep I will no doubt read it again. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Ron Erkert | 12/8/2013

    " A must have for every writer to have in his/her working library. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Tara | 12/5/2013

    " Interesting and insightful look at the craft of writing (both fiction and non) from someone who worked both sides of the desk. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Tammy Hensel | 12/3/2013

    " This was not as easy a read as some other writing books, but has a lot of valuable info. Recommended. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Peggy | 10/31/2013

    " Sol Stein. Would love to sit and talk with him about writing. Much useful advice for fiction and nonfiction. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Catrina Barton | 10/18/2013

    " I bought this over a year ago and finally finished reading it today. An excellent book about the craft of writing. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Mark | 6/25/2013

    " Interesting, entertaining, provocative. Started reading, but then it was due in the library and I haven't gone back. Should I? I keep thinking about it. Stein has a wealth of experience and is a good storyteller. It was motivating to me when I needed to get started writing. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Rich Silvers | 5/7/2013

    " One of the better books on writing. Gives good practical advice from someone who not only wrote books but edited them as well. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Kathryn | 4/24/2013

    " This book addressed every applicable writing technique in clear, easy to read chapters. A good book to look into if you're trying to polish up a manuscript. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Sue Russell | 3/30/2013

    " Excellent book that I'd call writer-candy. I go back to it from time to time. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 A. R. | 3/1/2013

    " Great advice on writing. Now if I can only apply it. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Moni Smith | 1/24/2013

    " There is some great info in this book but the reader bored me to tears. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 F. John | 10/13/2012

    " Worth reading more carefully. I purchased the book based on this audio. He knows a thing or two about writing. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Marla | 5/21/2012

    " the best book on writing i've ever read. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Breaux | 3/4/2012

    " Practical advice, concrete examples, and shared experiences from an industry veteran make this book very encouraging and helpful. Sol Stein's book has helped me more than any other book on writing. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Darren Sapp | 2/15/2012

    " Stein broadly covers the plethora of writing topics with great skill and knowledge. However, he doesn't cover many items deeply. If you need a good reveiw or overview of writing principles for fiction and non-fiction, this will do. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Karen Robiscoe | 2/10/2012

    " If you read only one DIY on writing--this is the one. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Tiara Winter-Schorr | 1/26/2012

    " A bit too gimmicky and formulaic for my taste but not bad for beginners. His section on love scenes is worth reading. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Kathryn | 4/16/2011

    " This book addressed every applicable writing technique in clear, easy to read chapters. A good book to look into if you're trying to polish up a manuscript. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Aditya | 3/20/2011

    " It is just superb. I read the book How to write a Damn Good Novel and Stephen King's On Writing. Son Stein's 'Stein on Writing' has given the best of Craft advice. This is surely one of the best 'Writing Craft' books. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Johann | 3/2/2011

    " The best book on writing I have read. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Erika | 2/20/2011

    " If you think you know everything there is to writing, you're wrong, unless you own this book. It is worth the money and I will NEVER regret it, I promise. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Will | 1/10/2011

    " i wish i could soak up this wisdom "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Tessa | 10/15/2010

    " This is one of the best books I've read on writing. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Bill | 9/9/2010

    " Is the second time a charm, or just better reinforcement? "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Patty | 8/28/2010

    " For those interested in the writing process like me, this would be a must read. I found many important tips in the craft of writing. I refer to the book often when writing my novels. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Braden | 7/31/2010

    " This is an excellent book for a writer, packed with all kinds of useful and helpful bits of advice, techniques and anecdotes. I need to buy my own copy so I can underline and re-read. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Bill | 7/3/2010

    " This I have on audio, along with a hardback copy from the library. Good reference book, but becoming a bit outdated. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Brent | 5/21/2010

    " An excellent book that combines theory and practical advice. It's hard to argue with Sol Stein's success in the publishing industry, and I enjoyed reading what he had to share. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Breaux | 5/9/2010

    " Practical advice, concrete examples, and shared experiences from an industry veteran make this book very encouraging and helpful. Sol Stein's book has helped me more than any other book on writing. "

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About the Author
Author Sol Stein

Sol Stein is a prizewinning playwright produced on Broadway, an anthologized poet, the author of nine novels, and an award-winning teacher of writers. He has edited some of the most successful writers of the century. He is the author of Stein on Writing and How to Grow a Novel and creator of the computer programs WritePro®, FictionMaster®, and FirstAid for Writers®.

About the Narrator

Christopher Lane is an award-winning actor, director, and narrator. He is a three-time winner of the prestigious Audie Award for Best Narration and recipient of ten AudioFile Earphones Awards.