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***The Plot Thickens

8 Ways to Bring Fiction to Life

by Noah Lukeman

Reviewed December 6, 2003.
St. Martin’s Press, New York, 2002.  221 pages.
Available on for $10.36 in paperback.

Here’s a book on writing with excellent information about crafting and forming a book.  For some reason, the approach didn’t resonate well for me.  I think part of the problem was that I read it as I was in the beginning, creative stages of writing a book.  I think I would have enjoyed it more in the later stages of shaping a work already written.  I found the approach extremely cerebral and hard to get through.  It’s a way of analyzing your work, not one of those books that inspires you to enthusiastically and intuitively write on.

Interestingly, I read one chapter in isolation in an issue of Writer’s Digest Magazine and found it excellent, making good points about how to build suspense.  That’s when I realized that the information in the book is excellent and raises some good points to think about.  It just wasn’t the best material for me to read at that particular time in my book’s creation.  I will keep it on hand and perhaps consider it again when I am in the editing stage.

The “8 Ways to Bring Fiction to Life” that the author considers are characterization: the outer life, the inner life, and applied; the journey; suspense; conflict; context; and transcendency.  The characterization section was the part I liked the least, simply asking a seemingly endless series of detailed questions for you to answer about your characters.  (Personally, I’d rather learn about my characters by seeing what they say and do.  But this method might work for some people.)

I liked the chapters on the rest of the topics.  It was a way of looking at fiction that I’ve never seen before, and raised excellent points about making a book into interesting reading.

Copyright © 2003 Sondra Eklund.  All rights reserved.

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