Book Review: By Cunning and Craft, by Peter Selgin

With the vast array of writing books available, writers need to know which ones are the comprehensive, go-to books to open when they need to brush up on the basics. By Cunning and Craft is such a book. While there are many books that focus on a particular topic, like your story's hook, or whether to start with plot or character, this book will be an often thumbed-through reference.

The book is beautifully organized, and sprinkled with a generous amount of writing quotes that pertain to each chapter. The topics have examples of successful authors applying the different aspects of fiction writing.

Ten chapters include advice on characterization, point of view, structure and plot, dialogue, and description. Selgin also covers the important topic of scene, summary, and flashback--an important technique for fiction writers to grasp. The author spends time explaining voice and style, theme, revision, and finishes up with a discussion on pursuing publication. There is an appendix at the end listing more books on craft the reader may want to read for further information.

By Cunning and Craft is a Writer's Digest book, and I was pleased to see it offered on the Writer's Digest site for only $5.49. Make sure that at least one of the books on your shelf is like this one.

What is your main fiction-writing reference?


  1. Definitely my fave is Self Editing for Fiction Writers. That's the writer's bible as far as I'm concerned.

    I'll look for this one--haven't read it yet!

    Angela @ The Bookshelf Muse

  2. I love that one, too. I also like Manuscript Makeover, and Writing Fiction for Dummies.




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