How to Write a Damn Good Novel: A Step-by-Step No Nonsense Guide to Dramatic Storytelling

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Macmillan, Dec 15, 1987 - Language Arts & Disciplines - 174 pages
3 Reviews

Written in a clear, crisp, accessible style, this book is perfect for beginners as well as professional writers who need a crash course in the down-to-earth basics of storytelling. Talent and inspiration can't be taught, but Frey does provide scores of helpful suggestions and sensible rules and principles.

An international bestseller, How to Write a Damn Good Novel will enable all writers to face that intimidating first page, keep them on track when they falter, and help them recognize, analyze, and correct the problems in their own work.

 

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User Review  - Vannessagrace - Borders

I bought this book because I needed answers and answers I got. James N. Frey writes in a language that is clear and concise. How To Write A Damn Good Novel is one of the best books I've read on novel writing. Read full review

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Good fiction not only changes the characters, but the effort also changes the writer. This process is described in nine chapters and a brief bibliography. The book continually refers to a set of seven example authors, Hemingway, Puzo, Dickens, Kesey, Le Carre, Nabokov, and Flaubert. The author presents illustrative excerpts from their most popular novels. Ways to improve the quality of each element are shown, often in slideshow-like bulleted, lettered, or otherwise highlighted fashion. Professional writing is defined by revision; the better, the harder. Writers’ groups may be helpful depending upon type, puff, literary or destructive, the last of which is most worthwhile. The alternative is self-analysis which is detailed. Assumption is that imagination runs on its own, though it can be directed contextually. It is done when there are no more conceivable edits. Dramatic narrative has three modes including narrative, scenes and half-scenes. Dynamic prose is specific, sensual and poetic. The latter may involve personification, hyperbole, metaphor or simile. It has time, color, textual density, and possibly humor. Viewpoint is the locus of narrative. It might be objective or subjective, omniscient or guessing, and differ for certain characters whom the reader may identify with and have a sense of participating in decision making. Characters have a goal, opposition, and conflict or dilemma. Rounded characters are physiological, sociological and psychological. The core conflict determines the genre. The premise states what happens to the characters as a result of the conflict, that is the conclusion. Dialogue can be direct or indirect. Flashbacks may be revealing at particular points. Story questions invite the reader to continue on to find answers. The story begins with a status quo situation which might be an antithesis to the final one. A stepsheet details the incident plan and shows cause and effect, logic and inertia. A great climax might involve surprise, powerful emotion, poetic justice, find new facets of character, and make the novel whole. The author has about a half dozen books in this series.  

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Contents

WHAT ITS ALL ABOUT IS WHO
1
THE THREE GREATEST RULES OF DRAMATIC WRITING CONFLICT CONFLICT CONFLICT
27
THE TYRANNY OF THE PREMISE OR WRITING A STORY WITHOUT A PREMISE IS LIKE ROWING A BOAT WITHOUT OARS
49
THE ABCS OF STORYTELLING
68
RISING TO THE CLIMAX OR THE PROOF OF THE PUDDING IS IN THE PREMISE
84
VIEWPOINT POINT OF VIEW FLASHBACKING AND SOME NIFTY GADGETS IN THE NOVELISTS BAG OF TRICKS
98
THE FINE ART OF GREAT DIALOGUE AND SENSUOUS DRAMATIC PROSE
122
REWRITING THE FINAL AGONIES
150
THE ZEN OF NOVEL WRITING
161
BIBLIOGRAPHY
173
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About the author (1987)

James N. Frey is the author of the internationally bestselling How to Write a Damn Good Novel and How to Write a Damn Good Novel, II, as well as nine novels. He has taught and lectured on creative writing at several different schools and conferences throughout the U.S. and Europe.

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