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How to Write a Damn Good Novel, II: Advanced Techniques For Dramatic Storytelling 1st Edition

4.5 out of 5 stars 66 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0312104788
ISBN-10: 0312104782
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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Frey ( How To Write a Damn Good Novel , St. Martin's, 1987) expands on his earlier take on the art of novel writing. His focus here is on dramatic fiction. Using examples from a broad range of fiction, he shows what these works have in common and how writers can learn from the authors to improve their own writing. Some of the areas discussed are developing characters, creating suspense, using a strong narrative voice, and understanding the author/reader contract. Chapter 8, entitled "The Seven Deadly Mistakes," talks about being timid, trying to be literary, and the failure to produce; it gives some advice on how to avoid these writing traps. The final word is to write with passion. This is a good choice for the writing shelf. It is a clear-headed study, with a bit of humor and solid advice. Anyone who owns the first book should have this one, but it can also stand on its own. Recommended for public libraries.
- Lisa J. Cochenet, Winfield P.L., Ill.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Review

“Frey expands on his earlier take on the art of novel writing. His focus here is on dramatic fiction. Using examples from a broad range of fiction, he shows what these works have in common and how writers can learn from the authors to improve their own writing. Some of the areas discussed are developing characters, creating suspense, using a strong narrative voice, and understanding the author/reader contract . . . A good choice for the writing shelf. It is a clear-headed study, with a bit of humor and solid advice. Anyone who owns the first book should have this one, but it can also stand on its own.” ―Library Journal
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 176 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press; 1st edition (March 15, 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312104782
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312104788
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.6 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (66 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #387,862 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on January 10, 2002
Format: Hardcover
James Frey's "Damn Good Novel" books, especially this one, give the aspiring novelist the tools necessary to create gripping, salable fiction.
Like many other aspiring writers, I am a lazy person- collecting writing book after writing book, doing much more reading about writing than actual time at the desk composing fiction. But after reading Frey's books my head was exploding with so many concrete, practical ideas that could be fleshed out immediately that I rushed to write them down- and after having finished his books I have my first draft completed. It is the first time I have been able to piece together ALL the elements for a complete first draft, and all thanks to Frey's wonderful advice.
The most helpful aspect of Frey's books is the way he distills each distinct element of a good novel to its most basic structure, and using acknowledged classic novels as examples he shows how you can create those elements for your own fiction. How does a damn good novelist create reader sympathy for the book's protagonist? How does (s)he structure a plot? Keep a reader glued to the page, thirsty for each new word, sentence, chapter? Let Frey show you how.
In addition to "How To Write a Damn Good Novel" I and II, I recommend Stern's "Making Shapely Fiction" for quick inspiration and James V. Smith's "You Can Write a Novel" for concrete nuts-and-bolts instruction. If you can get your hands on it, "The Weekend Novelist" by Robert Ray is also very interesting.
Out of all these, read both Frey's books, in order. They are as valuable to an aspiring novelist as a four-year degree.
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Format: Hardcover
The title says it all, and it lives up to its claim.
James Frey, Edgar Award nominee and author of nine novels, knows how to write a damn good guide for novelists. As the title suggests, 'How to Write a Damn Good Book II' is a follow-up to his first volume and breaks new ground, offering advanced tools and techniques for dramatic fiction.
Fray covers a wide range of issues affecting today's fictioneer, including:
* Defining and delivering suspense
* Creating memorable characters
* Finding and writing a premise
* Developing the writer's voice
* Understanding the author/reader contract
* The 'seven deadly mistakes'
* Writing with passion
Frey's advice is most often rock-solid and he illustrates his points by relating them to classic and well known writers and their works. His view is that great novels share common elements ~ distinct characters, strong narratives, dramatic conflicts and satisfying endings. He identifies them and he shows you how to implement them in your own work.
One of his best chapters is one of his last ~ 'The Seven Deadly Mistakes' ~ which Frey lists as:
* Timidity
* Trying to be Literary
* Ego Writing
* Failure to Learn and Re-dream the Dream
* Failure to Keep Faith with Yourself
* Wrong Lifestyle
* Failure to Produce
This chapter, alone, is worth the price of the book. It offers signposts of what to avoid and how to avoid it.
James Frey takes a fresh approach at an age-old art and produces one of the better books on successful novel writing. He injects a touch of humor and humanity, especially in the final chapter where he shares his many failures on the way to literary success. This, like the rest of his book, shows writers what not to do and what you can achieve.
-- Michael Meanwell, author of the critically-acclaimed 'The Enterprising Writer' and 'Writers on Writing'. For more book reviews and prescriptive articles for writers, visit [...]
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Format: Hardcover
This book covers the basics in a very conversational, provocative way. Frey challenges and provokes in an effort to get writers to re-examine what they're doing and try to do it better. He discusses "the fictive dream and how to induce it," suspense, memorable characters, "premise", narrative voice, and the author-reader contract. By "premise" he means "a brief statement of what happens to the characters as a result of the actions of the story." (p.51). He points out common mistakes with these, but just how "advanced" his tidbits of information are-that is another matter. For example, nothing in the chapter on suspense should be news to someone who has read a few books on fiction writing.

Also, "the seven deadly mistakes": timidity, trying to be literary, ego-writing, failure to re-dream the dream, failure to keep faith with yourself, etc.

His guiding examples of damn good novels are Jaws, The Red Badge of Courage, Gone with the Wind, The Trial (Kafka), Crime and Punishment, and Carrie (Stephen King). Most of the time, Frey's own tastes dictate what constitutes a damn good book and, thus, how one ought to write, so all of his advice needs to be taken with a few grains of salt. Also, there is a great deal more that can be said about fiction writing that this book does not say. The book is also short. Bottom line: you need to read other books too.
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Format: Hardcover
A practical yet far from basic how-to guide, this book concentrates on advanced techniques for fiction writers. Frey has a deep appreciation and understanding of the power of fiction, telling us in the chapter titled "The Fictive Dream and How to Induce It": "When transported, the reader goes into a sort of bubble, utterly involved in the fictional world to the point that the real world evaporates. This is the aim of the fiction writer: to bring the reader to the point of complete absorption with the characters and their world."
Frey explains the finer points of writing powerful fiction, including how to make your reader identify, and not just sympathize with characters; how to go beyond the "hook" to develop engaging "story questions" that sustain curiosity and suspense; how to comprehend and use the notion of "premise" to drive your stories; and how to avoid the "Seven Deadly Mistakes" of the inexperienced writer.
The book balances concept with application beautifully, analyzing what makes good fiction work, and then showing us how to apply this understanding in our own writing; you won't find a better book out there for sharpening and expanding your skills as a fiction writer.
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