KP Book Review: 5 Editors Tackle The 12 Fatal Flaws of Fiction Writing by C.S. Lakin et al.

Sometimes you read a book about writing and enjoy it, but you never think about it after you put it back on the shelf. Other times a book immediately earns a spot in your section of writing resources that you reference regularly.

This book is definitely one of the latter.12_Fatal_Flaws_of_Fiction_Writing

C.S. Lakin, the author of over a dozen novels and several books on fiction writing, joins four other editors to do what the title says: tackle the twelve fatal flaws of fiction writing. These flaws include everything from backstory dumps and POV violations, to overwriting and pacing problems. And all of the editor’s solutions to these flaws are excellent. [Read more…]

Profile photo of Josiah DeGraaf
Josiah DeGraaf is a high school English teacher and literature nerd who fell in love with stories when he was young and hasn’t fallen out of love ever since.
He writes because he’s fascinated by human motivations. What causes otherwise-good people to make really terrible decisions in their lives? Why do some people have the strength to withstand temptation when others don’t? How do people respond to periods of intense suffering? What does it mean to be a hero?
These questions drive him as a reader, and they drive him as a writer as well as he takes normal people, puts them in crazy situations (did he mention he writes fantasy?), and then forces them to make difficult choices with their lives.
Someday, Josiah hopes to write fantasy novels with worlds as imaginative as Brandon Sanderson’s, characters as complex as Orson Scott Card’s, character arcs as dynamic as Jane Austen’s, themes as deep as Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s, and stories as entertaining as Wayne Thomas Batson’s. In the meantime, you can find him writing articles here or short stories at his website (link below) as he works toward achieving these goals.

KP Book Review: Creating Character Arcs

Creating Character Arcs: The Masterful Author’s Guide to Uniting Story Structure, Plot, and Character Development by K.M. Weiland

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

According to Writer’s Digest, K.M. Weiland runs one of the top one hundred writing sites, and she spends a lot of time on her blog giving advice to writers. Since I’ve followed her blog and read her books for several years now, I had high expectations for her latest book on fiction writing.creating_character_arcs

But with this book, Weiland matched and even surpassed my expectations.

In Creating Character Arcs, Weiland delves into the art of crafting character arcs and structuring a story around the protagonist’s character arc in a way that leads to deep themes. As Weiland points out, one of the key benefits of a strong character arc is how it unifies the story. Plot and character are too often viewed as opposing forces. [Read more…]

Profile photo of Josiah DeGraaf
Josiah DeGraaf is a high school English teacher and literature nerd who fell in love with stories when he was young and hasn’t fallen out of love ever since.
He writes because he’s fascinated by human motivations. What causes otherwise-good people to make really terrible decisions in their lives? Why do some people have the strength to withstand temptation when others don’t? How do people respond to periods of intense suffering? What does it mean to be a hero?
These questions drive him as a reader, and they drive him as a writer as well as he takes normal people, puts them in crazy situations (did he mention he writes fantasy?), and then forces them to make difficult choices with their lives.
Someday, Josiah hopes to write fantasy novels with worlds as imaginative as Brandon Sanderson’s, characters as complex as Orson Scott Card’s, character arcs as dynamic as Jane Austen’s, themes as deep as Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s, and stories as entertaining as Wayne Thomas Batson’s. In the meantime, you can find him writing articles here or short stories at his website (link below) as he works toward achieving these goals.

KP Book Review: From Homer to Harry Potter

What can Christians glean from the genres of myth and fantasy? How do specific fantasy novels showcase certain worldviews? Where does the fantasy genre come from historically? And how should Christians view the use of magic in stories?from_homer_to_harry_potter

These are some of the many questions that Matthew Dickerson and David O’Hara tackle in their work, From Homer to Harry Potter. Dickerson and O’Hara write from a perspective similar to Lewis and Tolkien’s, and they explain how this perspective enlightens the genre. The first half of the book largely focuses on exploring fantasy works that were written before Tolkien and Lewis redefined the genre. Then, post-Lewis and Tolkien, the writers move on to evaluate four different contemporary fantasy authors (Ursula LeGuin, Philip Pullman, Walter Wangerin, and J.K. Rowling) and how Christians ought to interpret their works. [Read more…]

Profile photo of Josiah DeGraaf
Josiah DeGraaf is a high school English teacher and literature nerd who fell in love with stories when he was young and hasn’t fallen out of love ever since.
He writes because he’s fascinated by human motivations. What causes otherwise-good people to make really terrible decisions in their lives? Why do some people have the strength to withstand temptation when others don’t? How do people respond to periods of intense suffering? What does it mean to be a hero?
These questions drive him as a reader, and they drive him as a writer as well as he takes normal people, puts them in crazy situations (did he mention he writes fantasy?), and then forces them to make difficult choices with their lives.
Someday, Josiah hopes to write fantasy novels with worlds as imaginative as Brandon Sanderson’s, characters as complex as Orson Scott Card’s, character arcs as dynamic as Jane Austen’s, themes as deep as Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s, and stories as entertaining as Wayne Thomas Batson’s. In the meantime, you can find him writing articles here or short stories at his website (link below) as he works toward achieving these goals.

KP Book Review: Aspects of the Novel

by E.M. Forster

This book was written by an acclaimed fiction writer at the turn of the twentieth century and tries to define what elements make a novel a novel.  As a result, this is more of a book on what a novel is than how one should go about writing one.  That being said, because it is written by a novelist, it is rather easy to make applications to your own writing.  aspectsofthenovelreview

The book is structured according to the seven elements that Forster believes are essential to a novel: story, characters, plot, fantasy, prophecy (the extent to which a story reaches toward universal themes), pattern, and rhythm.  Each element gets a full chapter on it—with the exception of characters, which get a full two chapters on them as befits their prominent place within the novel.

The best sections of this book are arguably the chapters on characters and plot, as in these chapters Forster gives some of the best descriptions of what makes a novel quintessentially a novel.  Forster does a really good job of pointing out how the depiction of the internal life of the character is what makes a novel quintessentially a novel, as well as how this natural tendency of the novel ends up making plot less important.  [Read more…]

Profile photo of Josiah DeGraaf
Josiah DeGraaf is a high school English teacher and literature nerd who fell in love with stories when he was young and hasn’t fallen out of love ever since.
He writes because he’s fascinated by human motivations. What causes otherwise-good people to make really terrible decisions in their lives? Why do some people have the strength to withstand temptation when others don’t? How do people respond to periods of intense suffering? What does it mean to be a hero?
These questions drive him as a reader, and they drive him as a writer as well as he takes normal people, puts them in crazy situations (did he mention he writes fantasy?), and then forces them to make difficult choices with their lives.
Someday, Josiah hopes to write fantasy novels with worlds as imaginative as Brandon Sanderson’s, characters as complex as Orson Scott Card’s, character arcs as dynamic as Jane Austen’s, themes as deep as Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s, and stories as entertaining as Wayne Thomas Batson’s. In the meantime, you can find him writing articles here or short stories at his website (link below) as he works toward achieving these goals.

KP Book Review: The Christian Imagination

by Leland Ryken

Looking for a book that takes a deep look into how our Christian faith should integrate into our practice of writing?  I read this book two years ago and it has already become pretty much my go-to source on the different questions that I wrestle with concerning this topic. ChristianImagination

In this book, Ryken has put together a collection of essays that address many different aspects of writing: from what a Christian philosophy of literature is, to why Christian fiction can become weak, to how Christians should portray evil, and even how to write good poetry.  Each of the ten parts of the book have several long essays on the given topic, a couple shorter parts of longer essays, and most also end with a collection of quotes from different writers concerning the topic, leading to a look at these issues that manages to be both wide and deep. [Read more…]

Profile photo of Josiah DeGraaf
Josiah DeGraaf is a high school English teacher and literature nerd who fell in love with stories when he was young and hasn’t fallen out of love ever since.
He writes because he’s fascinated by human motivations. What causes otherwise-good people to make really terrible decisions in their lives? Why do some people have the strength to withstand temptation when others don’t? How do people respond to periods of intense suffering? What does it mean to be a hero?
These questions drive him as a reader, and they drive him as a writer as well as he takes normal people, puts them in crazy situations (did he mention he writes fantasy?), and then forces them to make difficult choices with their lives.
Someday, Josiah hopes to write fantasy novels with worlds as imaginative as Brandon Sanderson’s, characters as complex as Orson Scott Card’s, character arcs as dynamic as Jane Austen’s, themes as deep as Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s, and stories as entertaining as Wayne Thomas Batson’s. In the meantime, you can find him writing articles here or short stories at his website (link below) as he works toward achieving these goals.

KP Book Review: Structuring Your Novel

This book is pretty much a goldmine for any writer who wants to delve more into story structure.  Weiland’s goal in this book is two-fold: to show how a basic story structure underlies pretty much every good work of fiction, and then to teach the would-be writer how to use the basic parts of story structure well. structuringyournovelpinterest

The largest section of the book is spent on the structure of the story as a whole; however, Weiland also spends a considerable amount of time looking at how individual scenes ought to be structured, and also multiple pages at the end to look at how sentences should be structured.  All of this leads to a book that covers many different areas of writing within the general theme of structure.

Weiland’s book has multiple strengths.  The first is her ability to use a diverse set of examples from fiction to pound each point home, as well as to show us how story structure can be applied to a lot of different kinds of books and movies in a way that doesn’t seem formulaic or repetitive.  [Read more…]

Profile photo of Josiah DeGraaf
Josiah DeGraaf is a high school English teacher and literature nerd who fell in love with stories when he was young and hasn’t fallen out of love ever since.
He writes because he’s fascinated by human motivations. What causes otherwise-good people to make really terrible decisions in their lives? Why do some people have the strength to withstand temptation when others don’t? How do people respond to periods of intense suffering? What does it mean to be a hero?
These questions drive him as a reader, and they drive him as a writer as well as he takes normal people, puts them in crazy situations (did he mention he writes fantasy?), and then forces them to make difficult choices with their lives.
Someday, Josiah hopes to write fantasy novels with worlds as imaginative as Brandon Sanderson’s, characters as complex as Orson Scott Card’s, character arcs as dynamic as Jane Austen’s, themes as deep as Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s, and stories as entertaining as Wayne Thomas Batson’s. In the meantime, you can find him writing articles here or short stories at his website (link below) as he works toward achieving these goals.