Discover The Fire in Fiction, another book for the author’s keeper shelf

Moonday Madness

a blog about the craft of writing, or whatever

If you haven’t picked up The Fire in Fiction, and you are an author, go buy it. This is as strong a recommendation as I give. Donald Maass (And yes, there are two a’s and two s’s, he has almost as big a problem getting people to spell his name as I do!) is what we in the industry call an über agent and he has read more of the slush pile than I even want to contemplate. In this book he picks out a few select things that make novels great.

the fire in fiction, by donald maassBut even if your novel doesn’t approach greatness, and lets face it, few do, you can use these techniques to improve it. The book is organized by sections such as heroes, settings and voice. This is helpful because it enables you to go directly to the section where you are having trouble. You know, when that agent sends the rejection letter that says “I loved your idea, just didn’t love the hero” or “I loved your idea, just didn’t needs some tweaking on the voice”. Or whatever. It’s a manual for tweaking each overall need in your novel. And that is a powerful tool.

Not only does Donald Maass give us an overview of what great novels have, he shows us how we can fix ours, and even provides a handy worksheet at the back of each section. This way you not only can absorb the words of great novelists, absorb Donald’s take on each excerpt, but you have a way to apply his words of wisdom. And they are words of wisdom.

I’m reading this book straight through, but I plan to make it a keeper on my bookshelf. Already it is full of stickies and yellow and orange highlighting so when I go back to that section for help, I  know what I wanted to remember. And just in case I don’t, there are the worksheets. Definitely a keeper.

Do you have this book on your bookshelf? What about Donald Maass’s other book and workbook, Writing the Breakout Novel? That’s one I hear a lot about and now that I’ve read The Fire in Fiction, I intend to go after that one next. What workbooks do you use to increase tension and develop your setting, scene and characters in your books?


Filed under Moonday mania, writing craft

6 responses to “Discover The Fire in Fiction, another book for the author’s keeper shelf

  1. Last Saturday, I attended an all day Donald Maass workshop. This was my second workshop with Donald, so I knew it would be a workout. He’s a dynamic speaker who gave us idea after idea as to how to create those twists and turns that make page turners. I don’t yet have his book, but I will soon. I hear his words all the time when I’m plotting!

    • OOOH! I am so jealous. I want to go to a Donald Maass workshop. I think he might be at Nationals, but I’ll be fighting 500 other romance writers to see him. Very popular guy!

  2. I agree. The Fire in Fiction and Writing the Breakout Novel are two of my very favorite books on writing and both have a permanent place on my bookshelf as well. Love Donald Maass!

  3. Here it is, the truth. Sharon Clare is stalking me.

    It was fabulous to have Donald Maass dazzle Toronto Romance Writers with his brilliance. I nearly had to put my right hand in a cast, I did not want to miss a single note of his presentation.

    More than plotting and characterization tips, I felt validated. I find it hard to shove my writing into a genre, or even a blended genre, and tho I semi-accepted this past year that I don’t fit the pre-crafted mould, I still felt pressure to label my writing.

    Donald Mass freed me from that pressure. Good story, beautifully written. That’s what I need to concentrate on. I am content to answer the dreaded genre question the way I have been for the last six months.

    I write strong heroines in harsh circumstances, lipsmacker deep in the elements I love to read: humour, romance, suspense and paranormal. End of story.

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