Book Review for “How to Write a … Story Get Published and Make Money,“
by Christopher Fielden,
Over All Book Review
Upon receiving a copy of this book I thankfully turned a few pages of it every night before bedtime. Mr. Fielden describes how to write outside of work as one aspires to pursue writing as a career. He holds an annual story contest online, “To Hull and Back,” and lists many web links within the pages of “How to Write… ” for submitting stories to story contests and literary periodicals for publication.
A wonderful read, there are also many story examples Mr. Fielden includes. With each story example, he explains how the story was published, whether he chose to re-write the story; and why and how revisions were necessary for better success with publication. If you are learning to write stories for publication, this is an excellent book to read. It is also straightforward enough to be able to be read in a relatively small amount of time, as opposed to other books of the same nature that are not as down-to-Earth or as easy to understand. I enjoyed reading this book and hope you do, too.
List of Story Titles
- “Devil’s Crush,” page 26
- “The Day My Prayers were Answered,” page 55
- “Troll’s Head,” page 83
- “The Treasure No Thief Can Steal,” page 101
- “Smoo Choo the Magic Moo and the Secret of Whispering Wood,” page 119
- “Mr. Kill,” page 137
- “The El Passo Phantom Feeder,” page 155
- “The Cat, the Bull and the Madman,” page 169
- “Shot in the Head and Left for Dead,” page 189
- “The Ninja Zombie Knitting Circle,” page 207
- “Napalm Rising,” page 226
- “Love is Difficult for Zombies,” page 242
- “Love of the Dark,” page 245
- “I am the Warlock,” page 273
- “Hummingbee Bumblebird Meadow,” page 310
- “Oleg OG – Cyber Spider,” page 317
Some Thoughts on the Stories
Much to the respect of their author, many of these stories were re-worked into undue perfection. Their quality was enhanced upon their review by other writers, editors, and readers, allowing them to be beneficial examples for use and discussion within the text of Mr. Fielden’s book on writing and publishing stories. I will mention each story and a few thoughts on them, briefly.
“The Devil’s Crush” is the first story in the book and it was an awesome fiction story about a man with no legs and a fire-burning demon. The next story, “The Day My Prayers were Answered,” was about a man in debt, who encountered an Incubus. The story was well written and revised with more than one ending before its final draft and a wonderful story to consider. Every story mentioned within this review was astounding, so I will attempt to not say so in a redundant fashion, even though I enjoyed most of the stories a great deal.
“Trolls Head” was a story about Trolls fighting in an arena much like entertainment in times of Rome. I felt as though more could have been said about the descriptions of the characters during the first of the story, as well as the setting. Such a good idea just seemed to need a few more sentences to further paint the mental images I drew out anyway, in my mind. Some of the characters in this story properly use a limited style of dialogue. I did and did not like the dialogue, however it was well done. I would have also liked a more developed ending, though the conclusion did do a good job of pulling introduced ideas together in efficient summary. All in all the story was a great example of ‘showing’ rather than telling, albeit the idea a cliché obstacle for some.
“The Treasure No Thief Can Steal” was about a man-eating dragon who allowed a female protagonist to live. It was a profound example of a fantasy story. “Smoo Choo the Magic Moo and the Secret of Whispering Wood,” is both a story and a well-written children’s poem. I liked the story so much I re-read it a few times and sang a little song in my head, too… “Smoo Choo the Magic Moo, he flies to save the forest. Smoo Choo, the Magic Moo; he flies to end the forest fires for me and you. Smoo Choo, the Magic Moo, for without him what could we do?” I am sure the poem touches the hearts of all who read it.
“Mr. Kill” is an interesting story that uses what I think of as a ‘looping structure,’ where the story ends with the beginning occurring again. This technique is great, so long as the idea behind the story suffices for its use. Though seemingly complicated, the story was entertaining and thought provocative. It is about a doctor who does not save a worm and becomes a worm. Seemingly boring by the previous statement, the story itself is not.
“The El Passo Phantom Feeder” was a great story about the owner of a bar and his perils on a rainy night with attackers, a pretty young woman, and a man-eating phantom –one of my favorites. “The Cat, the Bull and the Madman” was an excellent story and quit worth the read for those of us who have at some point considered psychology. It was with great skill that this story used ‘imaginery’ characters without explaining why they were there then were not. These notions are covered in the discussion following the story.
“Shot in the Head and Left for Dead,” is a story about a rock and roll singer and includes fantastical beast creatures. As Mr. Fielden knows about rock and roll bands and is a drummer, this story was a good example of how well a story can be done when it is written about something the author knows a great deal of. Plenty of writers advise us to write about what we know about. While true, I usually back up my own ideas with research.
“The Ninja Zombie Knitting Circle” is a story well worth its read. If this story was made into a movie, I would be sure to watch it, as plenty of things leave its reader in suspense until its horrifying conclusion. Well done.
“Napalm Rising” is an intense story about a man who interrogates a captive in order to go and rescue his daughter from a dangerous brothel run by armed ex-military criminals. Upon finishing this story, I thought it would be a good idea for the author to write a sequel involving the main character getting caught for his actions when rescuing his daughter. The man could have also been released for reasons due to insanity, as his daughter was in such a tough situation. If a second story is written to follow up with this story in such a manner, I hope it receives publication and that I come across it, somehow.
“Love is Difficult for Zombies” is a story which is only 81 words long. I liked the other stories more, however a story of this nature does take talent and consideration to construct and was well worth its discussion in the book. There exist numerous competitions on the web for stories about 100 words long, and, as with poems, these stories hold their value when they impress their readers (they also hold their value if you win a competition with one).
“Love of the Dark” is an enchanting and story about a woman who escapes a cave with a talking spider. It holds the necessary rules which define a story. It is a pleasant cuddly one.
“I am the Warlock,” was a great example for this book, as its revision was discussed well. I also enjoyed the story itself and the manner in which things occurred. Use of both human characters and those of magical conjuring is impressive, and this story was both fun to read and to consider from a literary, critical point of view.
“Humblebee Bumblebird Meadow,” is a great bedtime story for reading to children and moving, as it paints an emotion invoking sunset. I was near ‘crushed’ with the ending. As powerful as the story was, I wondered if even more description could be added for the sunset scenery.
“Oleg OG Cyber Spider” was a nicely constructed story and a great example. The protagonist suffers a near-death experience, and the story is much like a story within a story. Christopher Fielden is an amazing author, indeed.
Some Notions on Mentioned Techniques
Mr. Fielden includes real advice on useful techniques with getting stories published for payment. He covers such notions as market research, marketing techniques, and conducting the necessary research involved with a specific publication. He even tells us how to communicate with editors or literary publication groups appropriately.
Throughout the text, the author mentions various techniques and how to use them when working with a new story. These techniques and topics, in their near entirety are included in a list as follows:
- reading, writing practice, market research, story development, story revision for completion, using constructive criticism, story submitting, story publication methods, story marketing, and making money with writing with realistic expectations
- Christopher Fielden website story contest advice and writing/editing help
- basic story construction notions
- writing group advice
- thoughts on encouragement and finding writing competitions
- editorial criticism
- character naming and choice of voice
- writing advice along with stories
- subplotting with characters
- thoughts on the children’s stories market
- discussion of techniques with proper use of dialogue
- use of a central character/protagonist
- use of humor and advice on ending stories well
- plot twists
- how to make time for writing
- submission advice
- does and don’ts of constructing a beneficial author biography
- choice of publication opportunities
- double/multiple publication endeavors
- advice on healthy living to be productive
- author website advice and advertising with Google for money
- links to writing for publication included, including advice for publishing independently
- entire section attributed by Dr. John Yeoman on winning story competitions
In addition to the links in Mr. Fielden’s book, remember to check out writersdigest.com for many of your needs as an author. The statement is not meant to be an advertisement, but a recommendation for all writers who may or may not have already considered the resources of Writer’s Digest. There, you can find new markets, writing competitions, techniques for writing better, and much more.
The stories included, though fun and enjoyable to read, are included for the purpose of learning to publish stories for payment. Some basic notions including literary devices within a simple guideline or discussion of basic story techniques, such as plot, character development, scene development, theme, rising and falling action, climax, narrative hook, and symbol are not covered in an appendix or separate chapter, which I would have liked to have seen. Many literary devices and techniques are discussed within the text, however, which somehow adds to the flow of the book, as mentioned above. Many people who write stories have already learned the reasons to use these various techniques from writing classes or reading, so it is not too big of a deal that some basic notions on writing are not covered in a chapter separate from the rest of the text.
As the book’s purpose is mostly to learn to do better with story contests for publication and payment, the advice Mr. Fielden provides is very beneficial, as it comes entirely from experience. Mr. Fielden resides in the UK, where his writing group is. Many of the links mentioned within his book are United Kingdom based. Some readers in the United States or other countries may have wanted to see more information on the contests outside of the UK, as well as the websites and companies mostly in the US who make publishing stories for payment possible, too. This is not a real major drawback to the book, however, as many of the contests mentioned are online and may not be as impossible to receive publication by as high-volume publications in the US. Google is mentioned, and writers all over the world should not have too much of a problem with publishing via enterprises in the UK.
These things being said, I do recommend the book for anyone who is learning to publish stories or wants some additional hope in regards to writing as a career. The book does contain a uniqueness to it, as Mr. Fielden explains each story and goes into detail about the reasons the stories made it to publication or not, depending on situations. Writing as a career does not come easy for some, and this book uses real world examples of how someone overcame certain challenges to not only to receive publication for payment, but also to share the methods and techniques of doing so with others.
In conclusion, I really enjoyed reading this book. I have plenty of books I am waiting to read, and I simply could not wait to read a few pages of this one every night before bedtime. Some of the stories may not be suitable for children, however they are well-written. As far as how beneficial this book is for people beginning to write and publish stories, it is well worth the time to read it. I enjoyed each story and hope you do, too. Thank you for reading this review; the book can be found here on Amazon, and here on Mr. Fielden’s website.