Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Book Recommendation: THE FIRE IN FICTION (Plus a Really Long Subtitle) by Donald Maass

I’m only about three chapters into literary agent Donald Maass’s latest how-to-write, THE FIRE IN FICTION: Passion, Purpose, and Techniques to Make Your Novel Great, but I can already tell it’s going to be worth recommending. His instruction is spot-on, and since he uses gobs of sample passages from contemporary fiction, it’s also a great way to come across new novels to read (albeit most of them from the adult market).

THE FIRE IN FICTION addresses, among other things, the difference between protagonists and heroes, and how to humanize both. It explores the nature of secondary characters and villains, and how to make them pop. It describes techniques for developing can’t-cut scenes and for creating memorable settings--and that’s just in the first three chapters.

I picked up one of Mr. Maass’s earlier books, WRITING THE BREAKOUT NOVEL, after I noticed it on several agents’ lists of must-reads for writers and found it to be a worthwhile way to spend a few hundred pages. But I like THE FIRE IN FICTION even better, mostly because the hints and advice he includes in this one are more applicable. I’ve already written about a page of notes of specific changes and additions I plan to make to my current work-in-progress. And I’ve been happy to see that several of his suggestions I’m already doing.

Unfortunately, this book recommendation is only going to be useful to those of you who are writers, but since I figure that’s most of you, I guess that’s okay. And if you are a part of that writing majority, definitely check this one out. At the very least, you’ll be able to tell Mr. Maass you’ve read one of his books when you query him, and that’s some darn good personalization:)


Myrna Foster said...

I loved WRITING THE BREAKOUT NOVEL. I'll have to check this out. Thanks!

Q said...

Re Leviathan:

It really isn't much like Westerfeld's other books, and readers expecting another Uglies have been disappointed. It is good in its own way.

Krista G. said...

Good to know, Q. It sounds like the sort of book I'd read, anyway, and the fact that it's written by an author whose other books I've enjoyed is just gravy. I guess we'll have to see...