Book Review: Techniques of the Selling Writer

It seems strange that I can learn so much from a book that was published the year I was born. But Dwight V. Swain's Techniques of the Selling Writer is still a top seller for writers today, listing on at #32 in its category.

Why? Listen to the first sentence:
You need to know only four things in order to write a solid story:
how to group words into motivation-reaction units;
how to group motivation-reaction units into scenes and sequels;
how to group scenes and sequels into story pattern;
how to create the kind of characters that give a story life.
And on that same first page, Swain lists the eight traps that slow writers down and hold them back from learning to write. Who wouldn't be hooked by a first page like that?

If you're not yet convinced that you need to read this book, here are a few links that distill some of Swain's ideas.

Randy Ingermanson (whose book Writing Fiction for Dummies was reviewed last week), explains Swain's concept of motivation-reaction units and scenes and sequels in his article Writing the Perfect Scene.

Author Camy Tang took the time to digest the entire book, and wrote eighteen articles detailing Swain's ideas. Read them all on this page.

Thanks to Randy and Camy for breaking it down for us!


  1. I'm intrigued by the idea of motivation-reaction units. This sounds like an interesting book--thanks for sharing it!

  2. Using them really helps to pull the reader along, Jenn. Glad you liked it.

    I've been enjoying your blog, by the way. Great job!

  3. I remember MVUs. I'm going to start working them into my draft. I'm so excited!

  4. See? I'm dredging up old memories for you! Make sure I get to read the results!



Related Posts with Thumbnails