Stages of a Fiction Writer by DW Smith

Book: Stages of a Fiction Writer

Author: Dean Wesley Smith, 2015

Have you ever read a book that feels part like fiction and the other half as non-fiction? That was the feeling I had as I read Stages of a Fiction Writer. Dean Smith intertwines how-to information with a story on Poker to illustrate the different stages that a writer goes as they progress from stage one to four, from writing for the sake of achieving a certain number of words to stage four where the author captures and entertains a reader.

How did I come to read this book?

I completed reading a fast-paced novel, The Letter in my previous blog, after which I started two different novels and stopped. I checked through the 702 books in my Kindle and stopped at Smith’s book, started reading and continued to completion.

Have you ever wondered what stage you are in as a writer, and what you need do to reach the apex? Here are Smith’s four stages:

  1. Focused on polishing sentences, grammar and punctuation.

  2. The focus is still on words, but the writer is shifting to an understanding of story - characters, plot, setting and the other elements of story.

  3. The focus is more on telling a good story – having an interesting plot, great characters, openings, generally on getting a reader into a story and holding them there.

  4. The writer’s focus is on how to capture and hold a reader from the first to the last page of the story. What the reader will be thinking and feeling as they read the story? At this stage the writer becomes what Smith calls an entertainer.

I recommend this book to fiction writers. I found the information useful, helped me to identify the stage I am at in my writing process and what I need to to make more progress. I identified myself as being in stage three – I no longer mind about the number of words I have typed or how polished they are. I think I crossed to stage three last year when I started to rely more on professionals - editors, proofreaders and book cover designers.

Each time I get the urge to stop writing and edit, I remind myself of the editors who will do a better job for me. The frequent self reminders keep me focused on writing the story.

Also, knowing that many writers disappear in stage three is an ever-present reminder for me to keep going, learning and writing.

I gave the book a four star because the Poker examples were too long a read for me, sometimes made me feel like I was reading a book on Poker and not fiction writing.

Until then, enjoy the book and stay tuned. I will be back with more book reviews.

Eileen Omosa.Comment