If you've read Donald Maass' book "Writing the Breakout Novel,"you were probably, like me, anxious to get his next writing book. In May, my mentor, DiAnn Mills' suggested this book to take our fiction to the next level. When Writer's Digest books offered it, I ordered it. The name of it is "The Fire in Fiction." I recommend this book for advanced writers. Beginners would find it confusing and not a litte daunting.
True to Maass' companion workbook for the breakout novel, the author gives projects and learning assignments. In fact, a quick read would be to turn to the practical tools highlighted at the end of each chapter. Maass breaks down the parts of a novel--the characters, scenes, plots, tension--and shows ways to bump each item up a notch. Not only heros, but villians get a second look. I love the way he suggests picking someone in your own life that's memorable, then asks you why. Maass makes you think, really concentrate on each aspect of your manuscript. Following this book's direction, you examine the goal for each scene. One of my favorite techniques to strengthen my book Maass calls "the tornado effect."
Nearer the end of the book, the reader learns to make the impossible plausible and create reality out of terrible situations. Maass' own quote says it all. "Effective storytelling doesn't minimize problems, it exaggerates them."
Again, Donald Maass proves to be an excellent writing teacher or coach. If we must dig and study to grasp what he has to say, the rewards will belong to those who put forth the effort.