This 320-odd-page book lists an A-Z collection of words and phrases that writers and editors use when they discuss a work. They run the gamut of definitions of well-known terms such as Antagonist, Chick Lit, Device, Humor, Mystery, Show, Don’t Tell and Voice. But The Fiction Writer's Handbook. also includes terms that are used less frequently—for example, Bildungsroman, The Choking Doberman, HIBK, Occam’s Razor, Verisimilitude and Wile E. Coyote.
While the definitions in themselves are informative and quite entertaining, they are also often educational in their examples and serve as great writing advice. Take, for example, the definition for Protagonist. This not only includes the definition, but also an example of classical protagonists such as Anne Elliot from Jane Austen’s Persuasion or Ike McCaslin in William Faulkner’s The Bear. There is also further discussion regarding the protagonist in addition to questions (and answers) that help a writer flesh out their protagonist.
This sort of detailed definition and discussion is also revealed under Revision, which provides three important rules for a writer when revising work, in addition to 26 basic questions for a writer to ponder when revising a work—questions like “Is the work complete?” “Does it end in the right place?” “Does the dialogue drive the story forward?” and “Does the narrative become heavy-handed and obtrusive?”
Though this extensive information is not available for all definitions (many of the words are quite straightforward), all the phrases offer some indispensible tidbit for writers. It is these details, information and insight that makes this handbook so versatile and handy to read for trivia or to research and refine elements of fiction. Highly recommended reading, especially for writers.