If you also have the desire to write – but no clue on the technicalities – then my book review, “Writing Fiction For Dummies” shows an awesome reference for getting started.
Overall Rating: 5/5
I enjoyed reading this. The authors, Randy Ingermanson and Peter Economy make it fun and easy to get the info. Don’t be put off by the ‘Dummies’ thing, this is a well known brand that works. All the ‘Dummies’ books have a standard format that add a certain amount of organization and efficiency, and this one is now different.
“Writing Fiction for Dummies” did not give me any trouble making it from chapter to chapter, or going back and finding something I’d read earlier. It has a clear table of contents, as well as an index at the back. Chapters and subsections are divided clearly and make sense, which is very much appreciated when you come across a skill that builds on an earlier one and want to flip back. Sometimes they even reference the page number for you right in the book so that you can instantly find it.
All in all, I give readability a 5/5.
Here are the Contents at a Glance, taken directly from the book “Writing Fiction for Dummies” by Randy Ingermanson and Peter Economy.
- Part 1: Getting Ready to Write Fiction
- Chapter 1: Fiction Writing Basics
- Chapter 2: What Makes a Great Story?
- Chapter 3: Finding Your Audience and Category
- Chapter 4: Four Ways to Write a Great Novel
- Chapter 5: Managing Your Time… and Yourself
- Part 2: Creating Compelling Fiction
- Chapter 6: Building Your Story world: The Setting for Your Story
- Chapter 7: Creating Compelling Characters
- Chapter 8: Storyline and Three-Act Structure: The Top Layers of Your Plot
- Chapter 9: Synopsis, Scene List, and Scene: Your Middle Layers of Plot
- Chapter 10: Action, Dialogue, and More: The Lowest Layer of Your Plot
- Chapter 11: Thinking Through Your Theme
- Part 3: Editing and Polishing Your Story and Characters
- Chapter 12: Analyzing Your Characters
- Chapter 13: Scrutinizing Your Story Structure
- Chapter 14: Editing Your Scenes for Structure
- Chapter 15: Editing Your Scenes for Content
- Part 4: Getting Published
- Chapter 16: Getting Ready to Sell Your Book: Polishing and Submitting
- Chapter 17: Approaching Agents and Editors
- Part 5: the Part of Tens
- Chapter 18: Ten Steps to Analyzing Your Story
- Chapter 19: Ten Reasons Novels Are Rejected
Randy Ingermanson is credited with the Snowflake Method of plotting a book. I spent many hours on his website and it did’t take long before I trusted him enough to buy his book. It has a lot of the same content as his website, but expanded upon. There’s also a lot of additional information in the book, which is great because I would have been a little pissed off if the book just repeated everything from the website.
I read about several writing techniques here and there on the interbutts, and wanted to know more about them, but so many experienced writers forget what it’s like to be a beginner. “Writing Fiction for Dummies” cleared up so many of these techniques for me, in a way that was neither patronizing nor presumed . I also found terms and techniques I’d never heard of before, which was very exciting.
No stone is left unturned. There’s no way they could fully cover every aspect of writing fiction in this one book, but they at least touched on pretty much most of it. I really appreciated the sections on editing, submissions and how to approach agents/editors.
The authors touch on other methods of plotting, but they use the Snowflake method predominantly. I had to go elsewhere to find a method of plotting that worked better for me.
Some of the information may not be relevant as time passes. The publishing industry is changing and will make the sections on how to get published outdated at some point. It’s not the book’s fault, that’s just how it is. They make come out with a revised edition eventually, I’ve seen it happen before. If not, well, the actual writing tips will still be useful.
Finally, “Writing Fiction for Dummies” was a little bit weak on how to build great characters. I’ve had to outsource more books for that, and I wish it could have been less general, or given a worksheet to use or something. Creating rounded, believable characters is a weakness of mine so I need a little more meat on that topic.
This is a pretty good deal for what you get, I think. The book can be purchased for under $20 on Amazon.ca, and under $15 on Amazon.com, which includes shipping. These aren’t affiliate links, by the way, they’re just the regular kind. You know, that take you places.
All in all, I love this book. It has been invaluable figuring out why the things I was doing weren’t working, as well as opening a world of useful skills and techniques to up my writing game.
Who it might help? Writers who want to outline their stories but struggle how to do that. Novelists who are serious about getting published, who want to tighten up their writing and prepare to send to publishers. Anyone who is fascinated by the mechanics of what makes a story work.
Sign it out from the library first if you want. They’ll probably have it. If you trust me (and you should, I have excellent taste), then just go and buy it. I hope your copy becomes as full of highlighted passages and post-it notes as mine. Happy reading!