Monday, July 5, 2010

One of My Favorites

The holiday weekend is behind us, like it or not. I hope everyone had a wonderful July 4th. Anyway, it's time for me to get back into my writing. As a kick start, I picked up one of my favorite books on the art of novel writing. Since I think this book is truly fabulous, I thought that I'd share it with you.

If I really love a book, whether it be fiction or nonfiction, it sits on my desk, within reach. The Fire in Fiction: Passion, Purpose, and Techniques to Make Your Novel Great by Donald Maass is one such book. Here are a few sample tid-bits of its wisdom:

Tid-bit number one: Think about the first and the last lines of a story scene. How important are they? (Answer: Very important). The first and the last lines of a scene can set the tone, the atmosphere, and reader expectations. The beginning and ending lines have the potential to shape a scene. In The Fire in Fiction, Mr. Maass gives examples and advice on how to get those lines right.

Another bit of wisdom: Have you ever noticed that sometimes novels don’t have enough events that affect many of those that have been introduced in the story? Big events that affect and change lots of the characters can have powerful impacts that reverberate through a novel and keep readers flipping pages. What writer wouldn’t be open to embracing a technique to keep readers riveted?

Bit number three: The value of micro-tension. For me, this discussion is the gem of the book. Most readers and writers know that tension is important to a novel. But the micro-tension, the tension that comes from the conflicting emotions in dialogue, action, and exposition, the inner conflict of the characters that keeps readers in suspense without pushing them over the edge can not be overlooked. Too much big-time tension can lead to reader migraines and high blood pressure for everyone. Not so with micro-tension. The discussion of micro-tension truly resonated with me.

I could go on outlining more snippets of wisdom from The Fire in Fiction: Passion, Purpose, and Techniques to Make Your Novel Great, but I need to get back to my own work in progress after the long weekend. Yes, I need to work on the first and last lines, the big events, and the micro-tension.


  1. I'm helping w/ a charity auction this next month and one of my tasks is to create a 'writers basket' for the auction. Maybe I'll look for this book to put in it ... it sounds great.

  2. OH I have to have a copy of this wonderful tool. I just enjoyed this post so much Cynthia! It was filled with such fabulous writers wisdom. This is wonderful and I will keep these things in mind when writing. Thanks so much for sharing. Thanks for your kind words. No more ads for my blog for now. Thanks for stopping by Beautiful!

  3. Tess, I think THE FIRE IN FICTION would be a great addition to a writer's basket. And it's in paperback, which is always nice, right?

    I'm so glad you enjoyed this post, Vanessa. I just had to share this wonderful book. Share the love, right? I hope you get as much out of the book as I did.

    Thanks for the comments, ladies!