Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Review of The Art and Craft of Story by Victoria Mixon

Longtime freelance fiction editor Victoria Mixon follows up her hilarious and enlightening The Art and Craft of Fiction with this “2nd Practitioner’s Manual.” In the first book, she covered the basics of storytelling; in this one, she digs deeper to show the bones beneath the flesh of any good story. Her warm, engaging, incorrigibly cheeky voice guides you past the surface level of the craft to understanding those seemingly mystical inner workings of structure.

The first half of the book was easily my favorite section, surpassing even the treasure trove of advice offered in her first book. Sections on character and narrative arc, exercises in utilizing our pleasure reading to learn major plot points and structural efficiency (some of those exercises can be found in a guest post on my blog Wordplay: Helping Writers Become Authors), developing rounded characters who fuel the plot, and, especially, several delightful sections on the differences and similarities found within the broad scope of genre.

The second half of the book focuses on that ever-important, but oft-overlooked subject of plot structure. Using examples from several novels and short stories, Mixon walks you through the major plot points of a successful story and further breaks them down, showing you how each beat needs to be structured. This section of the book might be heavy going for some, especially those not already familiar with the basics of structure, since Mixon throws a lot at her readers at once and it’s easy to lose track of where she’s at within the overall story framework. However, the section is worth reading and re-reading, since it’s chock full of solid structural advice.

In short, this is a heavier book than the first one, but just as worthy of a place on the serious author’s shelf of writing craft books.
Add to Technorati Favorites
Bookmark and Share