It's not very often that my opinion of a book is almost completely opposite to the reviews posted over at Amazon. In the case of: Writing Fiction for Dummies, that pretty much sums it up.
This book and it's authors have a loyal following. And I can understand why in some respects. It certainly delivers "the goods" if you are looking for a "technical breakdown" for lack of a better term on what it takes to write a novel in particular. What it isn't, in my opinion is an easy,engaging or "encouraging-for-the-aspiring- novelist" type of book to read.
It's been one of my goals, dreams, aspirations to write a novel for a LONG time. I gave it a constructive and lengthy try, a couple of times.
During one of those writing blitzes I even had the courage to share my finished pages (as the book progressed) with a friend who regularly read women's fiction along the same lines as what I was aspiring to create. This was also a friend known for "shooting from the hip" and definitely someone who would not hold back with her true opinion and feedback. And that suited me just fine. Her reaction to my weekly offerings again and again were:
"this is just as good as anything else I've ever read" and "when will you have more ready to read" ...and other similar comments.
Needless to say, I was encouraged. Did I ever finish that book? No I did not. Short version of a long story, mainly because the story line became too emotional and personally painful for me to continue.I'll leave it at that.
The desire to write a novel though, has never left me. Right now I have another story idea in mind that I am eager to pursue. I've been looking for some writing aids in my quest to start and keep on going this time, to see my "great Canadian novel" finally a reality.
So back to Writing Fiction for Dummies. Again, there's no doubt that the popularity of this book and the amount of detailed work that has gone into every chapter is evident. But every time I have gone to read another chapter, I've eventually found myself either nodding off or daydreaming about something more pleasant to consider.
Writing any kind of book, fiction or non-fiction; sure it's work and a lot of work to get it right but should it not also be a creative and satisfying experience along the way? Isn't that what writing or any type of craft is all about? All I felt after reading through (most not all) of this book was discouragement and boredom.
When I write a story, well... I WRITE A STORY! The polishing, the editing, the re-writing it comes afterwards. I don't want to be weighed down with a lot of the do's and don'ts and attention to the smallest of details that are presented in this book when I'm just trying to type as fast as I can! My main concern at that point in the process is not to "lose the muse or the moment".
From the Table of Contents:
- Exposition: Explaining Cultural drivers through narrative summary.
- Finding Your Category's Requirements and identifying your story's emotional driver.
- Setting Up the Structure of Individual Scenes and following up with the reactive scene
- Fixing Proactive Scenes and examining final results
- Deciding whether to show and tell and following an example of decision making....
I think this book may be a valuable resource for editing after the "meat and potatoes" process of actually writing a novel is complete or almost complete. Or for a writer with a definite analytical type of mind and style of writing. It's not what I'd call a "user-friendly" writer's resource and yes, I have read a few that I would categorize that way. I'll be posting some of my choices for writing guides I have found more helpful, here in the future.
Overall rating for this book: Fair. 2 out of 5.