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Wearing the hat of an enthusiast as well as a critic, James Wood here describes with style and precision the magical process by which fiction lights up our minds. How Fiction Works is a study of the main elements: narrative, detail, characterization, realism, and style. Wood ranges widely, from Homer to Make Way for Ducklings, the Bible to John Le Carre, and his book is both a study of the techniques of fiction-making and an alternative history of the novel. Playful and profound, How Fiction Works will be a revelation to writers, readers, and anyone interested in the magic of a written story.

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