Writing Fiction for Dummies

Writing Fiction for Dummies
By Randy Ingermanson and Peter Economy

When this book arrived in my mailbox and I opened it, my husband’s eyes widened a bit. “You have published fourteen novels,” he said. “Haven’t you figured out how to do it yet?” Yes, I like to think so, but I’m a strong believer in continuing education. Nobody knows everything there is to know about any subject. A professional constantly seeks to expand their skills, to improve their craft. Besides, I love reading books on writing.

In Writing Fiction for Dummies, Christy Award-winning novelist Randy Ingermanson and bestselling author Peter Economy present a no-nonsense, step-by-step approach to crafting a novel. They outline everything a beginning fiction writer needs to know, from fine-tuning your idea and identifying your target audience, to putting together a book proposal and approaching editors. They cover the mechanics, too. Characterization, setting, dialogue, story structure – all the elements of a great novel. To illustrate the skills presented, they include plenty of examples from published novels, some well-known and some a little more obscure, but all extremely helpful. Of course, being a speculative fiction fan from way back, I really appreciated the examples from sci-fi classic Ender’s Game.

Even though I don’t consider myself a “dummy” when it comes to fiction, I found the book really helpful. I enjoy reading what successful writers have to say about the craft of writing. Some of the skills Ingermanson and Economy described were refreshers for me, things I already knew but don’t focus on all the time. For example, the section on scene structure really helped me in my current task of revising my current manuscript. I needed a reminder about reactive and proactive scenes, and when I finished reading Writing Fiction for Dummies, I felt more confident in my revision. Other sections of this book were new to me, like the tips for analyzing problem areas of my stories. I love learning something new!

The writing in Writing Fiction for Dummies is clear, clean, and easy to understand. The authors’ conversational style and occasional humor kept me reading. Passages like this one made chuckle out loud: Every author thinks that he is the lone exception and can get away with writing pages of backstory in chapter one because the reader is dying to know it. This is a lie from the pits of hell. At other times I wanted to grab my highlighter, or clip sections of text to send to my critique partners.

In other words, you don’t have to be a dummy to learn from Writing Fiction for Dummies!

(Thanks to Randy Ingermanson for providing a review copy of this book.)