- Series: Elements of Fiction Writing
- Paperback: 167 pages
- Publisher: Writer's Digest Books (March 21, 2011)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1599632195
- ISBN-13: 978-1599632193
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.5 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars See all reviews (88 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #64,795 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Beginnings, Middles & Ends (Elements of Fiction Writing)
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About the Author
Although she began by writing fantasy, Nancy Kress currently writes science fiction, most usually about genetic engineering. She teaches regularly at summer conferences such as Clarion, and during the year at the Bethesda Writing Center in Bethesda, Maryland. In addition, she is the "Fiction" columnist for Writer's Digest magazine. She has won two Nebulas and a Hugo, and lost over a dozen more of these awards. Her work has been translated into Swedish, French, Italian, German, and Spanish, among others.
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Top Customer Reviews
Divided into three parts, appropriately, Beginnings, Middles and Endings, with three chapters in each part, and yes, a very helpful index at the back of the book. She goes from your opening line, your opening scene, to last paragraph, the last sentence.
Terrific, useful, step-by-step, craft advice on how to put the qualities that make your beginnings original and interesting, and your prose credible. How to stay on track in the middle of the story and stick to the promise you made the reader in the beginning. And how to fill that promise in the ending. And, oh yes, exercises for those who like them.
The part I personally found most helpful, was “Satisfying Endings: Delivering on the Promise,” (Chapter 7). I read and re read this one as I was writing the last few chapters of my current novel. It helped me avoid some mistakes that could easily have worked their way into the book. When you’ve spent over a year writing a novel, and revised it several times based on changes the characters and action demanded, you can write an ending that no longer meets the need of satisfying the reader who has read all those pages. But not if you heed her advice.
Here are her four rules for creating a satisfying climax:
1. The climax must satisfy the view of life implied in your story.
2. The climax must deliver emotion
3. The climax must deliver an appropriate level of emotion.
4. The climax must be logical to your plot and your story.
Sounds deceptively simple? Nancy Kress devotes 17 pages to it. There’s a depth in this (and her other sections), that might take a couple of readings before the light goes on, you say. “I get it,” and then you rewrite that last chapter or two.
I recommend this book to anyone who writes, particular novelists. And I recommend having a yellow highlighter available, because, you will want to highlight sections for your re-reads.
The most useful title so far is Description--it has LOADS of examples and useful info for writers of all skills. I am a more experienced writer, while my husband is new in the descriptive fiction world. I can't give a review on that title, since he was the one who purchased it. But it's helped him a lot.
I don't recommend the title Plot! Useless in comparison, with loads of fluff--you can read my review on that title.
But, yes, this book is recommended, no matter what level you are at. Get your highlighter ready!
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