Making Shapely Fiction by Jerome Stern

Here’s another book about writing, one that I’m required to read for my Master’s degree and while I only started it in August (as in the degree, not the book) I couldn’t pay this novel my full attention because of everything else that was going on at that moment. So, it was a goal of mine to sit down and read it cover to cover (ok, so not really but it was one of the books that I have to read for the course) and I was a bit sceptical. Also, it looked like the easier read in comparison to the other one I have to read as well.

It’s also one of my books on my list for this year. I digress, though.

I wasn’t sure what to expect from this book, it’s just another writing resource, right? I mean there’s the holy bible of all creative resources On Writing by Stephen King and the close second Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott (and I always spell it with two m’s and 1 t until I look over my shoulder to see if I spelled it right…wrong!) and there’s the newbie to the bibles Big Magic by Liz Gilbert (that’s more just for creatives but whatever), how would Making Shapely Fiction fit into it?

In one word? (Because I can be verbose as all hell)


It’s a must have for any writer and writer to be. It’s full of nuggets like:

Don’t believe any of the don’ts above

Art is made out of broken rules. Art pushes at the envelope of the never-done, but also constantly recycles the forever done. Clichés are the compost of art. Transformations, inversions, reversions, and conversions continually revive fiction. If you dare, these don’ts can be your pleasure ground.  

Ahhh how swoony is that? Writing is full of so many rules, but the age old saying of knowing the rules so you can break them always, always stands true. There’s nothing against breaking the rules if you can do it in a way that makes sense.

The beauty of this book is that it breaks down everything you can think of in writing starting from Accuracy and ending at Zig-Zag. At times it’s hard to get through and I could feel my eyes glazing over and forever seeing how many pages I had until the end but all in all, it was a gorgeous put together book.

And while some say that it didn’t bring anything new, I feel like they weren’t looking deep enough and perhaps they’re just a bit jaded with what they’d read. I, on the other hand, found it fabulous.

Here’s another of the goodies I picked out.

Imaging really means unleashing your personal experience, your own fears and nightmares. Let those memories and thoughts run free and see where they go, what jungles they’ll inhabit, what liar they create.  

Stern also makes good work of using examples that are mostly in the know. There were a few there that I didn’t know of because I haven’t quite read a lot of the classics (because I can’t quite seem to get into them and if I can’t get into a book I won’t read it because life is too short to read books you don’t enjoy).

This is definitely a book that I recommend anyone, who wants to write, to read because you’ll get a deeper sense of writing and what you can do with it.

What’s the last book you read that you haven’t been able to stop thinking about? Leave me a comment below.

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