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By Cunning & Craft:
Sound Advice and Practical Wisdom for Fiction Writers
by Peter Selgin
Writer's Digest Books
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from By Cunning & Craft:
"This is a book for serious fiction writers of all levelsfrom beginner to advanced and beyond, including accomplished authors wishing to fine-tune their craft. It aims to provide actionable advice, and plenty of it, yet offers no glib formulas or panaceas. Those seeking a writing guide that tells them, in so many words, that writing fiction is easy and that anyone can do it, should probably look elsewhere. Such guides exist and are hugely popular. As is so often the case, the truths of the matter are less obviously appealing, and are as follows: that writing fiction is indeed hard, that it takes time and energy and effort, that if everyone could do it, it wouldn't be worth doing; at any rate, it would be no more worth doing than riding a bicycle, or whistling."
a Main Writer's Digest Book Club Selection
PRAISE FOR By Cunning & Craft:
There is craft and there is cunning. There is the struggle to get published
at all. But there is also the chance that you will do something
extraordinary. Peter Selgin illustrates the tricks, both basic and
sophisticated. But greatness is what he's really interested in. He thrusts
the readers into the company of those who wrote magnificently. Salinger is
quoted, Hemingway, Thomas Mann, E.M. Forster, John Gardner. "This book is
for serious writers of all levels," he writes in the beginning, and he's
talking about intentions. If you mean to shoot for the stars, then this book
is for you.
Benjamin Cheever, author of The Plagiarist and The Good Nanny
Peter Selgin has written an excellent guide-witty, lucid, well-written-for
beginning writers of fiction. In fact, any writer can learn from it.
Vivian Gornick, author of The Situation and the Story
Cunning and craft, indeed: Within these pages Peter Selgin quotes Chekov to
the effect that, "The writer's task is not to solve the problem but to state
the problem correctly." What I admire most about By Cunning & Craft is its
rare and inspired modesty-an ultimately stylish resistance to pledging more
than Selgin (really anyone) can deliver. May many learn from this book.
Robert Polito, Director MFA Writing Program, New School University
By Cunning & Craft is a masterpiece of writing about writing. If, like
Scheherazade, you had to spin out a story under threat of death, this is the
how-to book to read. It's filled with thoughtful, nuanced advice from a
teacher/writer who actually writes-and writes beautifully and with great
humor. The list of rejected stories in the "Theme" section is worth the
price of the whole book.
Nora Gallagher, author of Changing Light and Things Seen and Unseen
Writing fiction is a matter of choices, decisions that shape the
imagination. No one clarifies those choices more effectively than Peter
Selgin in By Cunning & Craft. He demystifies the alternatives through
straightforward explanations and illustrations. By showing the options, by
suggesting which are most effective for specific situations, and by
demonstrating through examples, Selgin gives writers the resources to
structure their creativity.
Walter Cummins, Editor, The Literary Review
A wonderfully helpful, thorough, and honest book on writing, By Cunning &
Craft is filled with good sense, good advice, and many excellent examples of
good writing. A book to read and read again with profit by the beginning,
the middle, and the writer of many years.
Sheila Kohler, author of Cracks and Children of Pithiviers
Along with the great advice, Selgin is pure pleasure to read.
Alexander Steele, Dean of Faculty, Gotham Writers' Workshop