Sunday, June 22, 2008

Beginnings, Middles, and Ends by Nancy Kress reviewed by Moonine Sue Watson

The book I am currently reading is called Beginnings, Middles and Ends by Nancy Kress. The book is part of The Elements of Fiction Writing series from Writer's Digest Books.

According to the "About the Author Section" of the book "Nancy Kress is an author of five novels and two collections of short stories. She is a two-time winner of the Nebula Award given by the Science Fiction Writers of America for the best series of the year. She is fiction columnist for Writer's Digest magagzine and frequently teaches writing at various universities."

Ms. Kress divided her book into three sections titled "Beginnings", "Middles", and "Ends".

For the "Beginning" section, she stresses how important the first three paragraphs of any story are to the writer seeking publication. Editors are busy people and have developed the ability to tell in that short amount of writing whether it is worthwhile to continue reading. Ms. Kress encourages the writer to polish and work on that section until it is as well-crafted as the writer can make it. She provides examples and suggestions on how to improve those paragraphs. She then gives examples of how to move to the next scene. At the end of each chapter she provides exercises for the writer to complete.

One piece of advice I appreciated was how important it is to move on with a story rather than revising the first three chapters over and over. Failing to move on means never completing a book. I liked the suggestion of rewriting a scene from five different directions to find the one that tells the story best.

I am eager to continue learning more about how to improve my writing as I read the rest of the book.

For an unpublished writer like myself, I plan to read the whole book and do the exercises to find out how to improve what I've written.

For the new writer, this is a wonderful way to start out writing, with suggestions that will start her/him down the road to developing an effective writing craft.

For the writer closer to publication or even the published writer, this book would help identify areas of weaknesses and offer remedies for the problems. Another strategy would be to read the chapters for the area that seems to be the most difficult for the author.

I plan to keep this book within easy reach in order to refer to it often.

1 comment:

  1. Sounds like a good book to read, Sue. I'm always looking for suggestions.


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