Monday, December 14, 2009

'The Fire in Fiction'

Hello, my dear readers!

Today, I'd like to share with you my thoughts on Donald Maass' book, The Fire in Fiction: Passion, Purpose, and Techniques to Make Your Novel Great.

First, I'd like to thank the ladies over at AuthorCulture, since it was they who I received the book from back in August (see this blog entry, Exciting News!)

Anyway, the book.

This book is a how-to guide, and from the blurb, it's to help take your so-so manuscript to a point where readers won't forget it. And, I really think the examples and techniques included in the book are ones that can help improve any novelist's book.

Topics covered include: Characters (both secondary and primary), scenes, world-building, voice, sharing 'impossible' things believably (think monsters, vampires, that kind of thing), hyperreality (think over-the-top situations/characters; humor; satire), and tension. Using examples from best-selling authors like Vince Flynn, Nancy Pickard, Tess Gerritsen, Dean Koontz, among others, Maass helps show the aspiring novelist great techniques to craft their own stories. At the end of each chapter is a mini-workbook with a series of questions to help you analyze and implement changes/additions to your own work in progress.

What I really loved about this book was, frankly, the workbook sections. After having gleaned from the data he was trying to share, Mr. Maass thumbnailed things in such a way that it helped me 'get it'. And, it makes it easy for me to go back and review things later by having four or five questions to refer to in lieu of an entire chapter. Another nice thing about the workbook sections is that they're differentiated visibly--the edges are greyed so you can go straight to the workbook sections only. I'm looking forward to utilizing this book for years to come as I strive to improve my own novels.

There wasn't much I didn't like about this book. Probably the biggest thing was it felt rushed to print. Since this is a Writer's Digest book, I honestly thought they'd get things edited, but I caught several typos throughout the book which drove me nuts. Also, some of the passages did seem lengthy, and he occasionally selected more that two examples for a given section, however, they usually built on one another.

Overall, this is a great book for any aspiring novelist. I would highly recommend adding this book to your reference library--you'll want to keep referring to it again and again.

Until next time,

8 comments:

Jody Hedlund said...

It's on my Christmas wish list! Glad you liked it. I'm looking forward to reading it!

Kristi said...

So glad you posted about this book! I bought it a few months back and have yet to even glance at a page! You've inspired me to give it a shot!

Liberty Speidel said...

Thank you both for stopping in! I'm glad you found my review helpful. It really is a good book; this and 'Self-Editing for Fiction Writers' are both going to be my go-to books when I'm in editing and rewriting phases. :)

carolynyalin said...

It's been on my shelf for about a week. I'm going to start it this weekend.
Thanks for the review.

Liberty Speidel said...

Carolyn, thanks for stopping by. I hope you find the book helpful!

K.M. Weiland said...

Way back once upon a time, I enjoyed Breakout Novel. Is this one very similar?

Liberty Speidel said...

Katie, you know, it's been so long since I read 'Breakout Novel' that I can't remember. I'd say there are probably similarities, but the workbook material in this one is worth the price of the book in my opinion.

cvwriter said...

Thanks for your review. Sounds good. I'll check it out on Amazon. I've gotten many used books there for just a few dollars.

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