Writers know that an essential part of honing our craft is reading the works of others. Not simply reading one word and sentence after another through the end, but pausing over passages, re-reading, picking apart, unpacking to understand what makes the work good, great or bad. (I don’t do this often enough myself. I’ll use this post as a reminder.)
So consider this as a recommendation, passed from a friend in my writing group to you.
Literary critic James Wood wrote a book called, How Fiction Works (Farrar, Straus and Giroux). Wood applies his skill at helping his audience understand the fundamentals of great writing by going through concrete examples of literature’s estimable works.
Wood writes in an engaging, almost conversational style. At times I had felt as though I were a guest in his private library. There he plucked books off shelves and tapped his finger at passages that exemplify his points on narration, dialogue, characterization and so on.
The 288 pages are a quick read and worth your time.