Mosley guides the writer through the elements of not just any fiction writing, but the kind of writing that transcends convention and truly stands out. How does one approach the genius of writers like Melville, Dickens, or Twain?
... concise and entertaining ... a welcome voice of encouragement to writers at any stage of their career ... The book lacks a table of contents, a curious yet perhaps fitting omission given 'the non-linear relationships of the elements of fiction' ... At the very end Mosely gets a bit loosey-goosey in a synesthetic barrage of emotion, poetry, and aphorisms. Fortunately, the book ends there. His purpose, he reminds us, is to show by example how deeply writer can go into their own mind. And in this, he fairly well succeeds.
... Mosley further demystifies fiction writing through language as taut and spare as the prose in his own novels ... To illustrate this and other rules and assertions, the author unspools some narrative premises of his own invention. While some may seem too over-the-top to be anything more than parody, Mosley’s purpose is to show readers the array of choices a novelist faces in setting up conflicts, not least of which is where and when a story might take place ... These random premises often feel like sneak peeks into Mosley’s notebooks, but their intended effect is to make fledgling writers believe they can freely invent their own story ideas and carry them to fruition. The author is not only an inspiring instructor; he is also a bracingly open-minded one ... As with other manuals, this one doesn’t shirk from emphasizing the difficulty of writing, but Mosley’s spirited generosity helps make it less daunting ... A concise work that aspiring writers will find useful.
... compact but insight-rich ... Mosley’s fundamental offering, supplemented with some tricks of the trade, is a message of encouragement ... Mosley has skillfully packed a large canvas into a small frame, which should equally please readers who enjoy seeing a writer at work and writers in need of assistance.