Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Review of The Art and Craft of Fiction by Victoria Mixon

Most of us read writing how-to books for the cold hard facts. We’re searching for some nugget handed down to us by in-the-know people that will transform us into prodigies or bestseller s—preferably both. (Actually, if I had a nickel for every cold, hard, dry, and deadly tome on the craft I’ve slogged through, I wouldn’t need to be a bestseller.) But longtime editor Victoria Mixon’s book offers much more than cold hard facts—it offers a hilarious, engaging read that would be worth the effort of turning every one of its 368 pages even if it failed to offer a single nugget. Happily, however, it’s teeming with gold.

Mixon’s broad look at the writing life encompasses everything from general advice and encouragement to copyediting, but she also zooms in on the meaty specifics of good storytelling. She opens her segments with fun and enlightening chapters that use examples from the lives and works of great authors such as Hemingway, Capote, and Poe to make hard-hitting points about character building, plotting, selecting POVs, writing descriptions, and crafting dialogue.

Mixon’s ridiculously entertaining voice makes this book is a joy to read. Awash with humorous and practical examples of what and what not to do (based on her own experiences as an author and editor), The Art & Craft of Fiction will make you love being a writer if only because it means you belong to the special little club that gets to read this book.
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