Hank Quense, author of a number of satirical science fiction and fantasy novels, here offers his advice to beginning writers seeking to try their hand at a short story or novel of their own. He discusses the necessary planning that must go into character, plot, and scene design before the author can (or should) even start writing the work itself. Graphics, examples from his own work, and dialogues with an imaginary aspiring author offer convincing reasons why such planning is necessary, and how it can enhance one’s written fiction.
CREATING STORIES is a clear and concise book aimed at the novice writer, rather than the more experienced creative hand. The author’s tone is friendly and direct, explaining basic writing techniques and planning strategies in simple language that makes his points completely clear. He carefully goes through the choices an author makes, from what point of view to take, to where to set the story, to how to describe the setting to the reader in words that will make them feel as though they are there. If anything, he errs a bit on the side of explaining too much, coming across in places as a trifle condescending – though this is undoubtedly preferable to the alternative, when addressing those who are just getting started.
This isn’t all self-evident advice, though. A lot of the recommendations he makes, like diagramming characters and plot arcs so that their structure is in place before the actual writing even begins, are not things a new author might instinctively know to do, though they can be extremely useful. He freely acknowledges that not everyone will prefer to use his style of preparation and mental organization, but even those who normally prefer a more chaotic style will likely benefit from taking at least some of his strategies into account. It’s a good idea to have the foundations of good writing down before you start to stretch the envelope and bend the rules, and Quense does a fine job of outlining those foundations. His dialogues with his imaginary author figure gets a bit repetitive, even a bit cutesy at times, but that’s a minor annoyance.
CREATING STORIES is a useful resource for new writers who have a terrific story idea but aren’t sure how to go about turning that into a functional, readable, enjoyable novel.
~Catherine Langrehr for IndieReader