Tag: Donald Maass

Donald Maass

The Emotional Craft of Fiction

“The sad truth is that television commercials can stir more feelings in thirty seconds than many manuscripts do in three hundred pages.” So writes veteran literary agent Donald Maass in his spellbinding book, The Emotional Craft of Fiction, and he goes on to explain how writers can learn to help their readers feel.  As someone who has spent a fair amount of time crying over commercials, I found his advice compelling, and I’ll certainly apply it to my next book.  Meantime, here are some more quotes: “Why is it important to look at fiction writing through the lens of emotional experience? Because that’s the way readers read. They don’t so much read as respond. They do not automatically adopt your outlook and outrage. They formulate their own. You are not the author of what readers feel, just the provocateur of those feelings.” “Who your characters are, how they behave, what they believe, how they think, what they do, and the ways in which they feel are in your control. Why create characters who only raise shrugs?”  “What makes them classics? Artful storytelling, sure, but beyond the storytelling, classics have enduring appeal mostly because we remember the experiences we had while reading them; we remember […]

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Writing Books on My Desk

     I love to write. I love books. Why wouldn’t I love books about writing? I have shelves full of them, some better than others, a few well weathered from repeated readings and reference. Some provide inspiration. Others are instructional.     I’ll pull out Stephen King’s On Writing when I need no-nonsense advice about how to write without pretension or self-deception. “It starts with this: put your desk in the corner, and every time you sit down there to write, remind yourself why it isn’t in the middle of the room. Life isn’t a support system for art. It’s the other way around.” I snagged a first edition of On Writing for eight dollars recently. Score!     Elizabeth George (Write Away: One Novelist’s Approach to Fiction and the Writing Life) and Harry Bingham (The Writers and Artist Guide to How to Write) frequently come off the shelf when I need help with craft. Paula Munier’s (full disclosure, Paula is my agent and appears occasionally on MissDemeanors.com) Plot Perfect: How to Build Unforgettable Stories Scene by Scene falls into my lap when I get stuck trying to tell my story, even though I know what it is. Her Writing with Quiet Hands: How […]

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