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Book Review: Elements of Fiction by Walter Mosley

This is a review on the book: Elements of Fiction by Walter Mosley. This is book is aimed at aspiring fiction writers. As I am on this journey myself, I will be including articles on books for writers on my blog.

The book, Elements of Fiction is a follow up to Walter Mosley’s first writing nonfiction work, This Year You Write Your Novel. If you haven’t read that’s fine.

Quick Recap of This Year You Write Your Novel by Walter Mosley

I didn’t read the book until after I completed this book. In the introduction of Elements of Fiction, Mosley notes what was covered in his first book and gives a quick recap. “Some years ago I published a monograph entitled This Year You Write Your Novel. It was meant to show the layman what the structure of a novel might be in its simplest form and also where content comes from and where it belongs,” Introduction to Elements of Fiction.

Book Cover This Year You Write Your Novel
Book Cover This Year You Write Your Novel – Image from Amazon

Lessons from the book, This Year:

  • Write Every Day
  • Decide on Point of View
  • Understand Metaphor and Simile
  • Plot and Story
  • Character and Character Development
  • Importance of Language
  • Poetry
  • Writing and rewriting

Although, I would encourage you read This Year You Write Your Novel, it is not necessary for understanding the contents in Mosley’s second book. After I completed this book, I went back and read This Year. It was fine.

So What Are The Elements of Fiction?

In the words of Walter Mosley, they are:

“These elements are, among other things: character and character development, plot and story, Voice and narrative, context and description, content and the blank page and, of course, intentional structure versus vast troves of unconscious material.”

The Elements:

  • Character & Character Development
  • Plot and Story
  • Voice and narrative
  • Context and description
  • Content and the blank page
  • Intentional structure

The Structure of This Book:

This book is very compact. It is rich with instructional guide and fiction narrative sample weave through the each of the lessons. Mosley’s writing talent are on full display as he shows you how to create your own narrative work.

The book is a very short read. The audiobook is less than 3 hours long. However, don’t let the length of the book fool you. It is rich in best writing advice you’ll find anywhere.

The book structure is straight forward. Each chapter builds on the previous chapter as well as defining the character of each writing element that makes up a work of fiction.

What I Didn’t Enjoy About This Book:

Let me preface this section of my review with two points. I am not familiar with Walter Mosley’s works of fiction. Secondly, I am aware that Mosley is a very talented writer.

Ok, now my negative critique. Mosley, in my opinion, will touch on the subjects of sex, politics, and violence when conveying samples of how fiction should be written.

I could see this upsetting readers. Mosley, does mention that he does this because it’s the motivation behind writing the story, for driving character motivation, and for telling a story with common ground between the writer and the readers.

Although, I did feel unsettled or off-put reading some of these sections, I want to reiterate that Mosley is a brilliant writer and I enjoyed getting a sample of his craft.

How Elements of Fiction differs from This Year You Write Your Novel:

This Year, covers the structure of what makes a novel. It also provides practical advice for novice or aspiring fiction writers.

Elements of Fiction, takes a closer look at each specific element of writing that goes into crafting a work of fiction.

For the most part I focus on reviewing and summarizing classic novels. This year I decided to broaden my blog niche and discuss books on writing as well. This is because I am currently on a writing journey. I’m hoping to write a fiction book. I will soon be reviewing This Year You Write Your Novel by the same author.

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