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The Fire in Fiction: Passion, Purpose and Techniques to Make Your Novel Great Paperback – May 6, 2009


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The Fire in Fiction: Passion, Purpose and Techniques to Make Your Novel Great + Writing the Breakout Novel + Writing the Breakout Novel Workbook
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Writer's Digest Books (May 6, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 158297506X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1582975061
  • Product Dimensions: 8.9 x 5.9 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (57 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #359,313 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Donald Maass is president of the Donald Maass Literary Agency in New York, which he founded in 1980. He represents more than 100 fiction writers and sells more than 100 novels per year to top publishers in America and overseas. He is himself the author of fourteen pseudonymous novels and of the books The Career Novelist (Heineman, 1996), Writing the Breakout Novel (Writer's Digest Books, 2001) and Writing the Breakout Novel Workbook (Writer's Digest Books, 2004). He is a past president of the Association of Authors' Representatives, Inc. (AAR). Don tours the country giving one-day workshops based on his popular book, Writing the Breakout Novel.

www.maassagency.com


More About the Author

Donald Maass is the author of more than 16 novels. He now works as a literary agent, representing dozens of novelists in the SF, fantasy, crime, mystery, romance and thriller categories. He speaks at writer's conferences throughout the country and lives in New York City.

Customer Reviews

Donald Maass is one of the best advisors a fiction writer could have.
Laura J. Preble
To me, "Breakout Novel" was about the bones of a book: its premise, plot and main characters.
Abigail Welborn
So again, overall I'd highly recommend this book to anyone wanting to be a fiction writer.
Shawn C.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

52 of 54 people found the following review helpful By C. J. Singh on December 21, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
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Reviewed by C.J.Singh

"THE FIRE IN FICTION--Passion, Purpose and Techniques" is a sophisticated workbook for revising fiction drafts. The reviewer who wrote that it's "not as in-depth" as the author's earlier workbook is mistaken. On the contrary, "The Fire in Fiction" presents advanced exercises, aptly titled "Practical Tools," in each chapter that deepen and build on the earlier workbook's foundational exercises.

Having recently studied the three fiction-craft books by Maass,
in the order they were published --
Writing the Breakout Novel;
Writing the Breakout Novel Workbook;
The Fire in Fiction: Passion, Purpose and Techniques
-- I have to disagree with the same reviewer's odd classification, "If you think of the original Breakout as a bachelor's degree in fiction writing, the Workbook is a PhD. However, The Fire in Fiction is more like a master's degree." No.

The first chapter in "The Fire in Fiction" suggests exercises such as: "Is your protagonist an ordinary person? Find in him any kind of strength. Work out a way for that strength to be demonstrated within your protagonist's first five pages. Is your protagonist a hero--that is, someone who is already strong? Find in him something conflicted, fallible, humbling, or human. Work out a way for that flaw to be demonstrated within your protagonist's first five pages. Revise your character's introduction to your readers.
Read more ›
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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Angry Bald Guy on December 14, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
As good as his "Writing a Breakout Novel." Very readable, with many insightful tips. This book has many ideas and anecdotes that helped me with revision. What Donald offers here that isn't in other books is a set of techniques to amplify characters and make the story more theirs, while enhancing emotional connections with reader.

Personally, I got the most mileage out of Chapter 6: Making the Impossible Real, which explores how to draw readers into parts of the novel that are utter and complete make-believe with exercises that will help you overcome a reader's suspension of disbelief on things like villains, monsters, and the story world.

These tool can also be used when planning a novel, but I think them most useful after that 1st draft is on paper.
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23 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Taka on January 27, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Because Donald Maass's earlier book, WRITING THE BREAKOUT NOVEL was so good, I was afraid of being let down by his newest and didn't even touch it for a while when it arrived in mail.

What is he going to say that could be better? Is this going to be just a rehash of the old material in his earlier book?

Doubts swirled, but I finally convinced myself to read it.

What a ride.

He goes well above and beyond my highest expectations. Compared to his earlier book, the book is more tightly organized and focused, and comes with tons of practical tools to energize your manuscript with - something his earlier book didn't have. He really goes in depth with the most important topics of writing fiction, and Chapter 8 on micro-tension alone is worth the price of the entire book in my opinion.

It is extremely difficult to determine the cause from effects. What makes a good story? That is the million-dollar question I have been asking myself ever since I began writing seriously. I've read a fair number of books on writing but none of them seemed to do it for me. I groped further and read book after book, classic after classic in search of the holy grail of storytelling. But I couldn't figure it out. When I read Murakami, for example, I would lose myself in his world as if by magic and when I came back out of it, I could only say, "What the hell happened?"

And it looks like Mr. Maass could be the Galahad I have been looking for as he has a theory on the secret workings of this magic of good fiction. If not, at least he gives us a key to unlocking the mystery of The Good Story.

What's this key, this Holy Grail of Storytelling? That, my friends, you must find for yourself between the covers of this book.

A must read for any serious fiction writer.
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22 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Julia M Nolan on September 5, 2011
Format: Paperback
The Fire in Fiction is a pretty mediocre book, at best. It purports to teach the writer how to write memorable stories that are really noteworthy, but never gives any advice beyond the mundane. Now I'm not saying that this is a horrible book. If you're still at the point of not realizing that characters need to be more than cardboard cut outs to be interesting, and still don't quite get "show not tell", it could be a genuinely helpful book. And unlike a great many books in writing, it takes some really good examples from literature and uses them as "how tos".

The problem is that the book never really describes beyond the mundane as to why a scene works. Maaas is very good at finding quality scenes, but he never really pushes the explanation as to why they work to the extent that an intermediate level writer would need to get anything out of them.

There's a bit of decent advice, but I suspect that most advanced writers already know it. This advice includes, "Conflict is story. We hardly need to discuss that any further. Every writer who gets beyond the beginner stage knows it." This is true, and if Maass further pushed the idea of conflict, his advice might be worthwhile. But the explanation never seems to go much farther than that, making the advice good, as he said, for beginners. In addition, he offers "Dialogue in novels is, thank goodness, unnatural." Which is true, but again, is trite. Most decent writers already know this and don't need to be told it. Again, if he pushed this further, it might be interesting. But he doesn't, so the advice isn't overly helpful.

So while I think that this would be a great read for a beginning author who just doesn't get things like, "you can develop characters while advancing plot" and "please do not make dialogue overly natural", it's not really something that an already solid writer could use to push their craft to the next level, which was a bit of a let down.
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