From Publishers Weekly
A novelist and teacher, Dufresne (Deep in the Shade of Paradise) shares his blunt views on writing in this instruction book, which draws heavily on the tenets of realist fiction and method acting. Divided into two main sections-"The Process" focuses on habits and emotions; "The Product" emphasizes narrative mechanics-Dufresne's manual often adopts the tone of a fiery professor advising a group of wide-eyed young freshmen. "Fiction writing is arrested development," he declares. "Just know that you should quit right now if you can." Readers may sometimes feel lectured by his many stern instructions-"Thou Shalt Not Be Obscure," "Thou Shalt Show and Not Tell," "Thou Shalt Steal"-but the author hits his stride when he covers the mechanics of story. Particularly valuable is his advice on choosing character names, occupations, and points of view. A principle of acting teachers Konstantin Stanislavsky and Michael Chekhov-that exterior movement leads to interior feeling-forms the basis of one of Defresne's two chapters on characterization. Elsewhere, he skillfully analyzes the work of his favorite writers Anton Chekhov, Frank O'Connor and Eudora Welty. (Dufresne also mines his own work for examples of process and technique.) Each chapter closes with a set of writing exercises. Although this volume is unlikely to displace classic fiction guides like E.M. Forster's Aspects of the Novel, many readers may respond to the author's encouraging, exhorting tone.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Like so many writers' guides, this one talks about creating a character, finding an idea, constructing a plot, and the rest of it. It does all of that quite well, too, but what makes it stand out in this popular genre is its tone and approach. Novelist Dufresne, the author of Deep in the Shade of Paradise
(2002), lays out the storytelling process clearly and simply. "Fiction is telling the truth, not telling the facts." His tone is light, amiable, conversational: a professional storyteller talking to someone who wants to be a professional storyteller. Writing, he tells us, is about trusting our feelings, about describing the essence of a scene without getting bogged down in irrelevant details. Peppering his text with inspirational and instructional quotes from a variety of writers (Joseph Heller: "Every writer I know has trouble writing"), Dufresne delivers a book that is both a tremendous inspiration to novice writers struggling with their craft and a useful guide to the technical aspects of turning words into stories. David PittCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved