The Fire in Fiction
Writer's Digest Books
DESCRIPTION: What is it that lifts some stories above others, both in the bestseller lists and the slush piles? How can a thriller fail to thrill while the tale of an average housewife keep us riveted? Theme, structure, story arcs... those technical tools make for a competent manuscript, but something else is needed to make it more than the sum of its parts, to make agents or readers sit up and take notice. That something is you, the fire you bring to your stories - a fire that's too often missing. In this book, noted agent Donald Maass explains how to turn flat prose into something dynamic, and possibly turn the next form-letter rejection into an acceptance.
REVIEW: As the title and description indicate, this book is aimed at intermediate writers, those who know the basics of storytelling and plot structure but need some help polishing their prose, adding the sizzle to attract agents and/or readers. From how to create interesting characters to developing dynamic worlds, from fixing the often-flabby "muddle in the middle" to the secrets of truly amusing humor, Maass offers examples from many genres, ending each chapter with exercises for the reader to try with their own stories. Since my current monstrosity-in-editing is a short story, I couldn't quite find an exercise that fit (likely a failing on my part), but they looked interesting and potentially helpful. On the whole, it's a good read, even if it made me terribly mindful of just how far I am from producing anything like a salable story.
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