by Alycia Timm
When does your writer’s block typically set in? Is forming a plot the part that gives you trouble? Or maybe your scenes need a little redirecting. Perhaps you struggle when trying to express your characters’ personalities through dialogue, or maybe you just can’t seem to form an authentic three-dimensional protagonist. Whichever part of the novel-making process just doesn’t seem to come naturally to you, this book has some time-tested tips to put you back on track.
The book’s tone is very instructional. Flowing at a fast pace, it covers the four aspects of writing that most novice writers struggle with: developing intriguing plots, organizing well-structured scenes, creating realistic dialogue, and establishing highly motivated characters. Every point made is backed with details and examples that will lead to questions the struggling writer can ask about his or her own work-in-progress.
In each chapter, the book breaks the main points into a few smaller sub-points. For example, the chapter on character development offers various types of characters to focus on (heroes, villains, sidekicks), then illustrates the personality aspects that need to be presented and also explains how to establish a character’s backstory. Jones shows how revealing what a character is struggling against, what the stress factors of the story’s environment are, and how the primary and secondary characters respond to each other all combine to give the story a sense of authentic dramatic tension and logical structure.
Most of the book is written in narrative style, but there are a few bullet points and numbered lists scattered throughout. These inserts make reviewing the book’s key points easy, particularly as one launches into writing a novel and needs occasional reminders of ways to beat writer’s block.
Jones’s book certainly offers helpful instruction to anyone who is in the beginning, middle, end or even just the thought process of writing a novel. It fills in the missing pieces, offers encouragement, and provides pragmatic writing lessons.