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Elements of Fiction Writing - Beginnings,…

Elements of Fiction Writing - Beginnings, Middles & Ends (edition 2001)

by Nancy Kress (Author)

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737821,968 (3.96)10
Kress shows you effective solutions for potential problems at each stage of your story-- essential lessons for strong start-to-finish storytelling.
Title:Elements of Fiction Writing - Beginnings, Middles & Ends
Authors:Nancy Kress (Author)
Info:Nancy Kress (1999), 160 pages
Collections:Your library

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Beginnings, Middles & Ends by Nancy Kress

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    Plot & Structure by James Scott Bell (CKmtl)
    CKmtl: While these two works touch on the same material, I find Bell's treatment slightly better.

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Very decent guide to writing both novels and short fiction. It reminds me of a great deal I should always keep in mind while reading, as well. My appreciation for novels might just improve some more with these kinds of reminders. :) ( )
  bradleyhorner | Jun 1, 2020 |
Nancy Kress's Beginnings, Middles & Ends, part of the Elements of Fiction series, is an excellent reference tool for writers, as it clearly and concisely explains the hows and whys of effective story structure. The author breaks down the importance of each of the three sections for both novels and short stories, and shows, through examples and exercises, how the parts interrelate and are ultimately crafted into an effective narrative. Kress appropriately weaves in discussion of character, point of view, and motivation. Highly recommended for both the budding author and those more experienced who may need an occasional boost. ( )
1 vote ghr4 | Jul 28, 2017 |
“The story that comes out on the page isn’t the same as the story in your head,” Nancy Kress says on the very first page. I know this feeling intimately, and from this moment on I was hooked.

I’m very serious about writing, and I also have a tendency to research things I’m interested in very thoroughly. I’ve done this with every RPG and MMO I’ve ever played. I’ve done it with shows that have complex mythologies. So, it probably comes as no surprise that I’ve read quite a few books about writing. As of this review I’ve finished five, including this book, and I am working on three more. So far no book has helped me as much as this one. I took notes on this book, of every chapter. The chapter with the least notes clocks in at 200 words. The chapter with the most clocks in at over 800. That’s how packed full of useful information this book is.

So what makes this book so great? Kress goes over every topic a new writer needs to write credible, publishable prose, and to structure a satisfying story, and she does it in a way that immediately makes sense. She also does something I’ve yet to see other writing books do, which is to take into account every type of writer. Every new lesson acknowledges the differences between novelists and short story writers—outliners and discovery writers, and it offers specific advice for each. As someone who is just starting out, I write a lot of short stories simply because they’re faster and easier to finish. Finding information specific to short stories in this book was an unexpected but welcome surprise.

Long story short, this is one of the best books about the technical side of writing fiction. Period. If you need tips, advice, structure, direction, buy this book. If you are instead looking for inspiration, you won’t find much of it here, but one book can’t have everything, now can it? ( )
2 vote ForeverMasterless | Apr 23, 2017 |
This is a very good primer for beginning authors on the art and craft of fiction writing. ( )
  DLMorrese | Oct 14, 2016 |
Beginnings, Middles & Ends, by Nancy Kress is one of the best writing how-to's that I've read, yet. The book is targeted at both novelists and short story writers of any experience. Kress assumes little writing theory on the part of the reader and yet manages to be neither patronizing nor cliche when explaining basics (I swear some books are written from the same template - not this one!) Kress also takes care to emphasize that different writers work in different ways, addressing the "pantsters", who like to write without plotting, acknowledging that, for them, most of the advice will be relevant only after the first draft is done (but it will be relevant.)

So what's so good about this book? In short: it focuses on the writing. There's no showing off the author's understanding of Georges Polti, or proving that she bleeds Joseph Campbell. There are no structure formulas (three acts with seven turning points, no nine sequences, no 18 dips and crests of the roller coaster,) Kress has written a book which focuses on what you, the writer, need to know and do to organize your story's structure. Not that there's no theory, there's plenty, but it's all contextual, so it is clear how to apply it. How does Kress do this? Well - ahem - it's how the book is structured.

The title of the book is its structure. Starting with Beginnings, Kress discusses everything that needs to be considered when writing a beginning, which, of course, touches on everything from characterization, to language, to how the beginning effects the middle and the end. She acknowledges writers who find beginnings easy and offers assistance for those who find them difficult, addressing the various reasons one can become stuck while writing a beginning. Kress then gives the same detailed treatment for each of Middle and End, followed by a section on Revision.

I highly recommend this book to any writer, whether they are new to writing and don't know where to begin, or are wallowing uncertainly in a WIP. I particularly recommend this book to structure-phobics because, whether they think about it consciously while writing a first draft or not, a writer needs to know their craft and this book is a pain-free way to learn. I'll be putting this one on the #storycraft Book Chat list. ( )
  Darcy-Conroy | Sep 28, 2015 |
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Kress shows you effective solutions for potential problems at each stage of your story-- essential lessons for strong start-to-finish storytelling.

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