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The Fire in Fiction: Passion, Purpose and Techniques to Make Your Novel Great Paperback – Bargain Price, May 6, 2009
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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 ›
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.
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.
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.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Packed with examples of great writing from a wide variety of best-selling authors. Maass provides a keen analysis of all the major elements of fiction writing, including the... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Kristen Stieffel
Excellent! I just improved my script by 300%. I really mean it. If you choose to spend the time (and it's hard work) implementing the tools that Donald Maas gives you here, you... Read morePublished 2 months ago by Amazon Customer
Donald Maass has such great insight on what is needed in book writing.Published 4 months ago by Randy
Excellent information and incentive for first-time writers!Published 7 months ago by Elzbieta Foeller-Pituch
I'm only half done with The Fire in Fiction and I already want to kiss this man, square on the lips. Read morePublished 8 months ago by Reading Fanatic
Anyone that seriously wants to write fiction that will touch and inspire the reader should buy this book. Mr.Maass has done all authors a great service by writing it.Published 9 months ago by Jon Duncan
You know, I'm sure I must have read this, but I cannot recall it now. What I can say is that I have his other books on my real-life bookshelf, including a workbook, and I really... Read morePublished 9 months ago by Happy and...
This is an odd book, and given how many other writing books are out there that are far better, I'd skip it. Read morePublished 10 months ago by Historian