Monday, August 31, 2015

Today's Book Review: The Irresistible Novel

Today's Book Review: The Irresistible Novel: How to Craft an Extraordinary Story That Engages Readers from Start to Finish, by Jeff Gerke

Something different today, non-fiction!

From the "back of the book:"

"Discover Your Voice and Enthrall Readers!
The craft of writing is filled with various debates: Should I include a prologue? Should I delete all adverbs from my manuscript? Just how much backstory--if any--can I include in my story? These questions--and their often-contradictory answers--can cause confusion, frustration, and even paralysis in the writer.
The Irresistible Novel frees you from the limits of so-called "rules" and instead provides you with a singular goal: You must engage your readers from beginning to end. Filled with down-to-earth discussions on the various debates of writing, as well as innovative research on neuroscience and reader response, this book shows you how to:
  • Navigate the various debates on writing fiction--showing versus telling, purple prose, outlining, writing description, and more--to decide what kind of novelist you want to be.
  • Hack your reader's brain to hook her interest and trigger emotional engagement from the very first page.
  • Incorporate enduring elements of storytelling from masters like Joseph Campbell, Aristotle, and Carl Jung.
Readers want to be swept away by your stories. When you eschew the rules and focus on your readers' desires, you're free to write truly irresistible fiction."

The back of the book sums it up nicely, so I'll just give an example.

Chapter 78 is about Outlining. I've read at least six writing books that have said that pantsers are all amateurs, and real novelists always outline. But then I've talked with some award-winning authors who don't outline. What's the truth here? In The Irresistible Novel, Jeff Gerke gives both viewpoints about outlining, then his thoughts (he does a little of both.) Basically, everyone's different, and as long as you can still have good story structure, go ahead and write away with no outline.

That's part one. Part two covers the brain science of engaging readers, what goes on inside a reader's brain when they get sucked into the story. Part three covers a few different broad tools that help you engage your reader.

I really recommend this book for two different groups of people: writers who have read all the "rules" of writing fiction, and are feeling confused and/or inhibited by them. This book is really freeing for them.
The other group of writers who will find this book a valuable resource are writers who have a solid story, but want to hook readers faster, suck them into the story and keep them there.

All that, and it's not a dry read, either! Five stars!