Donald Maass: The Fire in Fiction
(Writers Digest Books, 2009)
Note this is not just getting a good review because I’m signed with Amy Boggs of the Donald Mass Agency
There are books on writing and there are Books On Writing. This is one of the latter. It would be tempting to say: if you only read one book on writing make it this one, but – hey – I haven’t read them all.
This is not for the beginner, it’s for those who already have a grasp of the basics and probably it helps if you’ve already completed at least one novel. This book doesn’t tell you how to write, or even how to write a novel, but it does tell you how to write a BETTER novel. The cover says it offers ‘passion purpose and techniques to make your novel great’ and largely I think it delivers on that promise.
It talks about character, pivotal scenes, voice, verisimilitude, humour and tension as well as that all important sense of place that comes with great world-building – but not just boring old description, rather it concentrates on seeing the world through the eyes of your characters, imbuing description with meaning. And finally it talks about the fire in fiction, weaving your passion into your words.
There are exercises at the end of each section. If you have a piece of writing you’re working on, you can even use this as an instant editing tool.