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The Art & Craft of Fiction: A Practitioner's Manual

by Victoria Mixon

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There are a lot of writer 'how-to' manuals out there these days, some good, most only so-so, and a whole lot outright harmful, but this one ranks up there as one of the more practical ones. First of all, Victoria Mixon is a bona fide DEVELOPMENTAL EDITOR, so Art & Craft of Fiction approaches your writing the way that an editor would, starting with the spark of the story, and then drills down into first plot & pacing, then into finer and finer layers such as dialogue and some line-editing stuff. Secondly, Ms. Mixon has a pleasant, chatty voice which makes it feel as though you are sitting down, going through your manuscript over a cup of tea with a friend instead of getting red-inked in front of the entire classroom back in elementary school as many how-to books make you feel.

Favorite Chapters:

- Action - how much action do you need to keep your reader interested? How can you spiff up a scene that is starting to drag? How do you inject the impression of action into a genre novel that isn't, by nature, action-oriented (such as literary fiction)? I think I liked this section best because it explained, in a way that has fallen flat in most other writer how-to books, how to build 'action' into even the most passive genre.

- Dialogue tags - goes far beyond the usual 'he said/she said' advice to give lots of practical examples of good and bad ways to use dialogue to convey the action and how (when) to use action-tags instead of 'said' without making it appear clunky. I found the comparison between good and bad examples especially helpful. Some of the 'bad action tags' made me giggle.

- Plotting your way out of a paper bag (chapter) - this chapter was helpful for a pantser like me who hates to over-plot.

- Revision - she uses zombie analogies :-) Need I say more? Anybody who has ever picked up their manuscript after it's 'gone cold' for a while and had to beat into submission knows what I'm talking about. Bra-a-a-i-i-n-sss...

Critiques: good solid advice. My only critique would be that some of good/bad example references were best-selling literary fiction and I'm a trash-talking genre fiction reader and writer, so I wasn't familiar with all of the works referred to. I'm sure there were a few things that floated right over my head.

If you are on a limited budget to buy writer how-to books, this one should be on your acquisition list because, unlike a lot of writer how-to books, it's focus is on how to improve the book you already wrote without squelching the voice you already possess, not on how to copy X-McAuthor's pre-existing writing style. ( )
  Anna_Erishkigal | Dec 28, 2015 |
Here are my highlights from reading the Art and Craft of Fiction (2nd Edition) by Author Victoria A. Mixon. You can also watch my 2-minute-video review here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MZ1DrJvPkOM

Favorite Section - definitely the revision sections. Her tips for revising the first draft would complement my own revision process seamlessly.

Not-So-Favorite Section - learning how to develop plot by analyzing not one BUT SIX stories simultaneously. Trying to follow all SIX plotlines put my brain into overload.

I give this book 4 of 5 stars.

Would recommend this book to beginning writers or those who have completed 1-2 books. ( )
  M.E._Anders | Sep 17, 2011 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0984542701, Paperback)

Based on Mixon's work as a successful independent fiction editor, The Art & Craft of Fiction: A Practitioner's Manual brings together in one place everything you need to know about writing a novel, an in-depth exploration of the myriad aspects of creating fiction in a warm, entertaining voice that welcomes you into the greater fellowship of all writers.

Be sure to click through to Victoria's author page to see the book trailer for this book!

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:25:01 -0400)

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