Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Book Report: Writing Fiction for Dummies, by Randy Ingermanson and Peter Economy

Writing Fiction for Dummies, by Randy Ingermanson and Peter Economy

Note: For the first time ever, I am including a link to my local (relatively) independent bookstore. I didn't even know they had a web site, which shows that sometimes I just don't THINK. Support your local indies, folks.

Anyway: you'd think after all the entries I've written here and my own tiny successes in the publishing arena that the last thing to open my wallet would be a title like this.

There are two schools of thought on fiction textbooks:

1) Don't read them. Go straight to the source. Read good books. Study how others do it. Imitate. Practice.

2) Read them. These people have been down the road and seen the sights and made the wrong turns and stopped at that hole-in-the-wall that looked promising but served cold Campbell's soup. They likely have a few things to say that'll resonate and cut a few miles off your own journey. Also: it's easier to learn if you're being taught.

Obviously, I belong to the 2nd school. Take from that what you may.

So why a book that insults me from the cover? Because it's done by this guy. That particular article inspired a few thoughts and raised a few questions, so I thought I'd see what else he had to say.

This book presents a real, fundamental, mechanic's view of story construction. I use the term "construction" intentionally, as the techniques he and his co-author present are practical, simple and functional. How do you make a character interesting? How do you put together a scene? A story? They show you ways and provide numerous illustrations of the principles at work in a selection of novel excerpts. If you follow their advice, you will finish with a working story.

Of course, it may not be a good one. That's where art comes in, and skill and practice. You can't get those out of a book.

I found this book quite insightful because it concentrated on how to create certain effects, how to structure scenes and acts, what things can be done to draw in a reader, to control pacing and ensure that the ending is satisfying. You have to bring your own art, but if you've got that, then this book will give you a few ideas about what you can do with it.

Ulysses Rating: 3 - I enjoyed this.

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