Skip to main content

Fiction Writer's Workshop

The key elements of a writing workshop: clear instruction, illustrated by contemporary and classic works, innovative exercises and methods to gauge your progress
  • Author:
  • Publish date:


Buy Book | Amazon | BN.com

Fiction Writer
s Workshop, Second Edition
The Key Elements of a Writing Workshop: Clear instruction, illustrated by contemporary and classic works, innovative exercises and methods to gauge your progress
By Josip Novakovich
Writer’s Digest Books, 2008
ISBN: 978-1-58297-536-8
$16.99 paperback, 336 pages

Image placeholder title

Read an excerpt from chapter six: "Dialogue As Conversation."

The great paradox of the writing life is that to be a good writer, you must be both interested in the world around you and comfortable working in solitude for hours on end. Fiction Writer’s Workshop, Second Edition, is designed to help you foster a strong sense of independence—of being and thinking on your own, of becoming self-evaluative without being self-critical—in order to accomplish what others seek in classroom groups.

In this comprehensive guide, award-winning writer and teacher Josip Novakovich explores every aspect of the art of fiction and provides all the tools and techniques you’ll need to develop day-to-day discipline as well as a personal writing style, such as:

  • More than 100 writing exercises, including dozens that are new to this edition, that challenge you to experiment with diverse writing styles
  • Specific statements of purpose for each exercise, to help guide you and instruct you at every step of the creative process
  • Self-critique questions to help you assess your work and identify strengths and weaknesses before moving on to the next lesson
  • The full text of eight acclaimed short stories, with analysis and exercises, to provide models for your own writing and help reinforce the lessons you’ve learned

The practical, insightful methods offered in this workshop will clarify your voice, broaden your perspective, and strengthen your fiction.

Praise for Fiction Writer’s Workshop

“Thoughtful, articulate, and eloquent, Fiction Writer’s Workshop is one of the best books I’ve seen on the teaching and learning of writing. Students say this book makes the whole process much more accessible and inspiring.” —Diana Abu-Jaber, Portland State University

Fiction Writer’s Workshop is written in a lively and engaging style. Josip Novakovich is not offering the reader pronouncements from on high—unbreakable story rules—but friendly and useful advice from one writer to another.” —Mary Grimm, Case Western Reserve University

Fiction Writer’s Workshop offers a wealth of sensible and relevant practice exercises. Any creative writing instructor could profit from this book.” —Peter Schmitt, University of Miami

About the Author

Josip Novakovich is a Croatian-American writer. At the age of 20, he left Yugoslavia, continuing his education at Vassar College, Yale University, and the University of Texas, Austin. He has published a novel (April Fool's Day), three short story collections (Yolk, Salvation and Other Disasters, Infidelities: Stories of War and Lust), and two collections of narrative essays (Apricots from Chernobyl, Plum Brandy: Croatian Journeys). Novakovich has taught at Nebraska Indian Community College, Bard College, Moorhead State University, Antioch University in Los Angeles, the University of Cincinnati, and is now a professor in the Master's of Fine Arts program at Pennsylvania State University.

Mr. Novakovich is the recipient of the Whiting Writer's Award, a Guggenheim fellowship, two fellowships from the National Endowment of the Arts, the Ingram Merrill Award, and an American Book Award from the Before Columbus Foundation. He has been anthologized in Best American Poetry, Pushcart Prize, and O.Henry Prize Stories.

How to Write a Compelling Premise for a Thriller

How to Create a Compelling Premise for a Thriller

Learn how to create a compelling premise for a thriller or mystery novel by asking a simple question and tying it to a specific circumstance to set the stage for a thrilling read.

Plot Twist Story Prompts: Make a Plan

Plot Twist Story Prompts: Make a Plan

Every good story needs a nice (or not so nice) turn or two to keep it interesting. This week, have your characters make a plan.

3 Tips for Writing Dystopian Young Adult Fiction

3 Tips for Writing Dystopian Young Adult Fiction

If you've ever heard it said that there's no new way to write a story, let author Julian R. Vaca tell you otherwise. Here, he shares 3 tips for writing dystopian young adult fiction to help silence our inner critics.

Rimma Onoseta: On Trusting the Process of Revision

Rimma Onoseta: On Trusting the Process of Revision

Author Rimma Onoseta discusses how seeing other Black female authors on bookshelves encouraged her to finish writing her contemporary YA novel, How You Grow Wings.

Writer's Digest September/October 2022 Cover

Writer's Digest September/October 2022 Cover Reveal

Writer's Digest is excited to announce our Sept/Oct 2022 issue featuring our Annual Literary Agent Roundup, an interview with NYT-bestselling YA horror novelist Tiffany D. Jackson, and articles about writing sinister stories.

Your Story #120

Your Story #120

Write the opening line to a story based on the photo prompt below. (One sentence only.) You can be poignant, funny, witty, etc.; it is, after all, your story.

5 Tips for Writing as a Parent

5 Tips for Writing as a Parent

Author Sarah Grunder Ruiz shares how she fits writing into her life and offers 5 tips on how to achieve a sustainable writing life as a parent.

Poetry Prompt

Wednesday Poetry Prompts: 621

Every Wednesday, Robert Lee Brewer shares a prompt and an example poem to get things started on the Poetic Asides blog. This week, write an animal poem.

Why Is This Love Scene Here? How To Write Compelling Love Scenes

Why Is This Love Scene Here? How To Write Compelling Love Scenes

Not sure which way to turn when writing intimate scenes? Author Jo McNally shares how to write compelling love scenes that make sense for the story you’re writing.