Adding Fire to Your Fiction

So I've stumbled across a fabulous set of books:

A few months ago, Anne Pfeffer, awesome CP, friend, and the author of Loving Emily (if you haven't read it, I highly suggest you do!!) asked for my address and said she was sending me *something*. A few days later, I got this book in the mail.



It's FABULOUS. Donald Maass talks about taking your novel to that next level, about taking what you already have and making it that much better. He goes into detail on tons of issues, like what makes strong characters and  making sure your stakes are high enough. (Did someone just say steak?) Plot structures, theme, this books has soooo much awesome info! And I've also heard there's a workbook to go along with it, though I don't have the workbook, so I don't know how beneficial it is. This book is mega helpful!

Which leads to the one I just finished reading:



I have to say, I kind of liked this one better than Breakout Novel! For me and where my writing is now, TFIF just resonated and clicked, you know? Maass goes into detail on how to spiff up your scenes and work with each of them individually, how to make sure you have micro-tension constantly (that little thing that keeps readers HOOKED). He talks about protagonists vs. heroes, and how to amp up your secondary characters, how to use setting as a character (which I'm doing in my WIP). He touches on voice and fear and humor, and I'm just gobbling up this book!!!

I highly recommend them both!

What about you, are there any *how-to* books out there that have resonated with you and what your writing needs?

26 comments

Morgan said...

I've read Donald's book---I did enjoy that one ;) But now I'm waaaay intrigued by TFIN... ;)

And I have Anne's book sitting on my shelf waiting for me!!!! :D

David P. King said...

Haven't read it yet, but I've heard great things about it. The Fire in Fiction, I have not heard about, so thanks for the recommendation! :)

Kyra Lennon said...

Oh man, more books?! Lol, I am just reading Write Great Fiction: Plot and Structure by James Scott Bell, and unfortunately, it is telling me mostly things I already know. The most helpful book I've read so far has been Hooked by Les Edgerton. I am going to add these books to my to-read list!

M.J. Fifield said...

I read Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott a couple of years ago when I was embarking on my very first NaNoWriMo experience. It turned out to be a brilliant book on writing that I really think helped me reached at 50,000 word goal that month.

Angela Cothran said...

I love books about writing. I just ordered "Save the Cat." I've heard great things about it :) I'll have to try The Breakout Novel. Thanks for the tip :)

Emily R. King said...

How can I not read Loving Emily? ; )
Thanks for the recommendation.

Jenny S. Morris said...

They both look awesome. Oh and I need to read Loving Emily too.

Rachel Searles said...

I've got the Donald Maass book, but now I'm reading Techniques of the Selling Writer by Dwight Swain, and I just ordered Bird by Bird...

Hope Roberson said...

I've read Writing The Break Out Novel, I need to check out the other one now :) Thanks for the idea! I'll add Loving Emily to my list too!

Jenn said...

I love Donald Maas! Save the Cat, Hooked, and The Anatomy of Story are also great books for helping you plan out a book or make it stronger.

I really need to check out Loving Emily. You're the second person to mention it in two days--I think it's a sign. ;)

Hope Roberson said...

Ok, my library has neither book, but I've requested them to get copies!

Jill Campbell said...

Thanks, I need a good kick in the pants or a good read or some motivation or chocolate or something.

Cynthia said...

Thanks for your sharing your recommendations! A book that's sitting on my desk right now is The Writer's Block by Jason Rekulak- it's literally in the shape of a block. What I like about this is that it's not meant to be read from cover to cover. All I need to do is flip to any page and there will be a writing prompt waiting for me.

Jack said...

Awesome recommendations, Cortney! I'll have to check them out! :)

Cherie Reich said...

Great recommendations! I think I might have both of them. Hmm...

Recently I read HOOKED by Les Edgerton. So far it's the book that clicked the most with me when it comes to writing.

Lara Schiffbauer said...

I have read both and love them both. I bought the Fire in Fiction, and am using it as I do revisions to try to make my story a little deeper. I am super-excited to go to a day-long workshop with Donald Mass in a couple of weeks. And I agree with Cherie up there - Hooked was extremely helpful for me and really cleared up what plotting means! I admit I'm kind of a sucker for how-to books...

Kelley said...

I read Loving Emily! I thought it was very good. Love books from a boy's POV.

Haven't read any of the how to books yet. But they sound very interesting...put them on the list ;)

Leigh Covington said...

AWESOME! I haven't read either of them but I've been wanting to get the "Breakout Novel" one. Now I must get the other. Which means I'm either hitting amazon tonight or B&N tomorrow! :) YAY!

inluvwithwords said...

I've heard good things about these books but haven't read them yet. The last writing book I read was "MFA in a Box" a few weeks ago. It's more of a why to write book, than a how to write. I highly recommend it!

Julia King said...

A year and a half ago, I read some books on writing fiction (I had no idea what I was doing but had a great idea for a book). They helped me so much. I'd like to add these two books to my list of writing reads. These kind of books are always usful to strengthen our talent.

Thanks for sharing! :D

Cortney Pearson said...

So good to hear from all of you, and I'm loving the replies and book recommendations!! :)

Juliana L. Brandt said...

Oh man, I really haven't read many How to books which I'm ashamed to say! I'm definitely going to have to check out TFIF.

Stephanie said...

I loved Writing the Breakout Novel. I'll have to try Fire in Fiction. I really like Maass's writing style. A how-to that I really enjoyed and got a lot out of is 39 Steps to Becoming a Writer by Scott Edelstein. I like to have steps :)

C.M.Brown said...

I haven't read either novel, but they seem interesting. Cortney I have just passed you a Versatile Blog Award! Hope you enjoy!
CarolynBrown-Books

Nyrae Dawn said...

Ooh, thanks! I am always looking for good how to books! And Loving Emily was raelly good!

Cortney Pearson said...

Yay, thanks for the award!! :D

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