Sunday, January 17, 2010

How To Write A Damn Good Novel by James N. Frey

I just finished reading an amazing how-to-write a novel book, How To Write A Damn Good Novel by James N. Frey. It is an excellent book written with humor and authority.

“A ‘Damn Good Novel’ is intense, and to be intense, a novel must be dramatic. A dramatic novel embodies the following characteristics: it focuses o a central character, the protagonist, who is faced with a dilemma; the dilemma develops into a crisis; the crisis builds through a series of complications to a climax; in the climax the crisis is resolved…. This is a how-to book on the art of the dramatic novel and does not claim to be anything else.”

In 173 pages, he give you the stuff you need to know in a way that makes me believe that I can do this.

He covers the waterfront in the chapters:
• What it’s all about is “Who”
• The three greatest rules of dramatic writing: Conflict! Conflict! Conflict!
• The tyranny of the premise, or, writing a story without a premis is like rowing a boat without oars
• The ABC’s of storytelling
• Rising to the climax, or, the proof if the pudding is in the premise
• Viewpoint, point of view, flashbacking, and some nifty gadgets in the novelist’s bag of tricks
• The fine art of great dialogue and sensuous, dramatic prose
• Rewriting: the final agonies
• The zen of novel writing.

A reviewer with vastly more experience than my own wrote, “The kind of book that should be kept by every author next to the typewriter. Mr. Frey not only includes the basics of good writing, but the invaluable hints of how to add depth and texture to a novel. Inspiring and clear, the book gives clear detailed examples of common pitfalls and how to correct them, with food for though to any careful writer. Laced with delicious humor, it makes the reading not only instructive but pleasurable.” Amen.

I really like how this guy writes. His ideas seem very practical and doable. I give this book 4 stars.

I want to read more by James Frey. Tomorrow, I’ll order the sequel, How To Write A Damn Good Novel, II

“If you’re an aficionado of one type (of novel), that’s what you should be writing. Write the kind of book you like to read.”

And for me that is: A Mystery!

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