The Irresistible Novel: How to Craft an Extraordinary Story That Engages Readers from Start to Finish, (C) 2015, Writer’s Digest Books, 233 pages, $16.99 US
To prologue or not to prologue? Should you write in first person or third person? Novelists are bombarded with a myriad of decisions like these and many others that can cripple the writer from writing anything at all.
Part One: Free Yourself from the Paralyzing Rules of Fiction
Jeff Gerke to the rescue. In the first section of his book, he addresses many of these writing ‘rules’ and how they came to be. He gives the pros and cons of each, often with humor, and if you choose to use that particular rule, how to get past gatekeepers (if publishing indie, not a problem). His main concern is for writers to write the most engaging story they are capable of and not to worry about the minor stuff.
Yes, you may have heard that starting a book with dialogue is a no-no or writing in one particular POV is taboo. But if readers don’t mind these aspects while reading, and it’s only a handful of editors or agents who don’t like them, then it’s not necessarily a ‘rule’ but more of a personal preference. Many novels have gone on to best seller status in almost every case of the ‘rules’ getting broken.
Part Two: The Great Commandment of Fiction
In the second section of the book Gerke explains the science behind reader engagement (or lack of) with a story. There is scientific evidence of how our brains react to story and writers can use this knowledge to better engage readers as they read our books. One way to do this is to connect readers with the characters of our stories.
Part Three: The Brain’s Greatest Hits
The third section covers the hero’s journey and the myriad of ways we can write his path for better stories. Writers have so many variables at their disposable; there really is no excuse for not writing a story that engages readers through the whole book.
With the validation Gerke gives writers and the section on brain science, this book is sure to be valuable to today’s writers. The Irresistible Novel is great resource to add to the novelist’s library. It’s almost like getting a writing burden lifted from your shoulders and getting a fresh and freeing perspective. I highly recommend this book.