Writing 21st Century Fiction review º 3


Writing 21st Century Fiction

summary Writing 21st Century Fiction

Y fiction different from twentieth century fiction? It's a real issue attested by slush piles that are chock full of stories that are weak because they adhere to rules feel old fashioned or in some other way are written the outdated way that writers think they should write in order to get published By explaining the techniues of high impact and often best selling recent novels expert author and literary agent Don Maass will push novelists beyond genre boudaries beyond outdated styles beyond their safety zone to ways of writing fiction that are personal uniue contemporary and excellent in ways that are both literary a This was amazing If you write books or are thinking about it definitely try this out Maass covers every possibly element of story you could think of and warps everything you think you know

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The first book to provide a concrete framework for writing powerful literarycommercial novels With this book literary novelists will Learn to create compelling plots while commercial novelists will be able to achieve literary uality writing and win critical respect Examine examples techniues and exercises Learn practical tools in each chapter that allow novelists to apply these methods immediately to create fiction that transcends genre creates realities uniue to its authors conjures characters who feel real than real people and shows readers the world around them in new ways What is it that makes twenty first centur I would rank this book up with STORY by Robert McKee as one of the most intelligent books ever written about writing fiction And frankly this book is accessible than McKee's textbookI've always loved Maass's writing how to materials and this was no disappointment However I have published 45 novels and taught novel writing for years and this book challenged even me to absorb the full message within it It is so dense packed with ideas and expressed so deeply that I literally had to read this book one sentence at a time stopping to re read each sentence in places But it's THAT brilliant It was worth itI hate to say it's not a book for a beginning writer because I suspect any writer will find many pearls of wisdom in this book But to really understand what Maass is getting at will take a fair bit of concentration thought patience and deep examination of your writing This is not a book for the dash off cheap fiction fast writerMr Maass is clearly a master of understanding fiction like few other people I've ever had the pleasure of reading or listening to And in this book he's kind enough to share his most intellectual take on fiction writing no holds barred He doesn't hold back on the complexity or profundity of his ideas and for that I am extremely grateful It's rare for me at this level of my writing career to run into someone who can blow my mind and force me to fundamentally re examine everything I thought I knew about writing But this book did both In spades

Donald Maass ç 3 read

Nd commerical Like Writing the Breakout Novel and The Fire in Fiction this is intended to be a how to with extensive practical tools and plenty of examples from recent novels About the Author Donald Maass heads the Donald Maass Literary Agency in New York City which represents than 150 novelists and sells than 150 novels every year to publishers in America and overseas He is a past president of the Association of Authors Representatives Inc and is the author of several books of interest to fiction writers including Writing the Breakout Novel The Fire in Fiction and The Breakout Novelist all from Writer's Digest Books The first time I read this book I skimmed over the uestions at the end of each segment they really reuire deep thought and the time and space for it and I still found it uite useful in wrapping my head around where I wanted my work to go I knew I'd have to revisit it before I went back to the revision drawing board and this time I focused on the uestions I just finished and it has catapulted my outlook on my writing life and the work itself into a whole new light and I've been at this for many years I have it on my Kindle but I just ordered a bound copy for easy flipping during revsion sessions If you are a writer looking to up your game buy this book

  • Paperback
  • 224
  • Writing 21st Century Fiction
  • Donald Maass
  • English
  • 15 July 2019
  • 9781599634005

About the Author: Donald Maass

Donald Maass is the author of than 16 novels He now works as a literary agent representing dozens of novelists in the SF fantasy crime mystery romance and thriller categories He speaks at writer's conferences throughout the country and lives in New York City



10 thoughts on “Writing 21st Century Fiction

  1. says:

    Those suck ups who rate this book a 5 are obviously hoping to get on Donald Maass’ good side He heads a big literary agency in New York The book is a 4 and mainly because of the uestions at the end of each chapter The text contains some wisdom but I don’t honestly believe it will benefit writers who have not already read about the topics in detail elsewhere If you have you’ll enjoy the review and the fresh examples lots of contemporary ones Rereading about topics such as characters may set something at an angle you previously missed that's all For example in chapter 6 The Three Levels of Story Maass writes about inner and outer conflict which I’ve read about and thought about just like you but his focus on inner and outer turning points in each scene did click with me in a new way Another example of a good from Chapter 6 was what he called the fourth level which is not plot beginning middle end scene or microtension His concept of the fourth level was useful to me but based on how little Maass truly elaborates some enterprising writer of fiction writing books could do him better much better I’d try but I know at this time I can’t Maass definitely knows than I do duh but he does not spell it out Maybe I’ll figure it out as I continue writingI found lots of things here I had not considered before like his discussion of “cool vs warm” like his vision of 21st Century fiction and novelists but none of it gets a lot of detailed attention Donald Maass has a great eye but he is not a writer He obviously knows about writing publishable successful fiction than we do His examples are wonderful varied and contemporary Maybe he’s used to writers who hear his uestions and comments and can deliver on that alone Maass wants results not hand holding Where you can handle it this book may be a gem Where you’re not uite there you may need to turn to other authors who will break it down for you Ultimately I think Maass is primarily an agent a producer a businessman which is fine and not a writer or even a teacher of writing All writers can benefit and learn from his analysis I suppose the degree depends on your experience knowledge and abilityEach chapter ends with uestions I think it may be best to read this book when you have a draft to contemplate as you read because the uestions will spur on your thinking if they are relevant to what you’re working on Some uestions may strike a chord another day with another novel draft or not at all never Some uestions even struck me as lame redundant or foolishBut there were enough good uestions that applied to various masterpieces on my hard drive that you will some day treasure so I will go back to this book again And againBut without a specific draft to contemplate I think the uestions’ value could easily be underestimated or even completely missedSo four stars And to all those reviewers who gave it five stars? Come on Donald Maass is not going to accept your trash just because you kissed his ass on Goodreads And if he passes on my exceptional final copies because of this 4 star review then then phooey

  2. says:

    Don's my agent I'm a New York Times best selling novelist already This book is making my next book better Lots betterThis isn't a How To Write a Best Seller paint by numbers This is a book that asks YOU uestions that make YOU dig deep to write the best book you can if you're willing to do the work

  3. says:

    I would rank this book up with STORY by Robert McKee as one of the most intelligent books ever written about writing fiction And frankly this book is accessible than McKee's textbookI've always loved Maass's writing how to materials and this was no disappointment However I have published 45 novels and taught novel writing for years and this book challenged even me to absorb the full message within it It is so dense packed with ideas and expressed so deeply that I literally had to read this book one sentence at a time stopping to re read each sentence in places But it's THAT brilliant It was worth itI hate to say it's not a book for a beginning writer because I suspect any writer will find many pearls of wisdom in this book But to really understand what Maass is getting at will take a fair bit of concentration thought patience and deep examination of your writing This is not a book for the dash off cheap fiction fast writerMr Maass is clearly a master of understanding fiction like few other people I've ever had the pleasure of reading or listening to And in this book he's kind enough to share his most intellectual take on fiction writing no holds barred He doesn't hold back on the complexity or profundity of his ideas and for that I am extremely grateful It's rare for me at this level of my writing career to run into someone who can blow my mind and force me to fundamentally re examine everything I thought I knew about writing But this book did both In spades

  4. says:

    This was amazing If you write books or are thinking about it definitely try this out Maass covers every possibly element of story you could think of and warps everything you think you know

  5. says:

    One of my favorite books on the craft of fiction is literary agent Donald Maass’s classic “Writing the Breakout Novel” Maass followed that up with “The Fire in Fiction Passion Purpose and Techniues to Make Your Novel Great” His latest work “Writing 21st Century Fiction High Impact Techniues for Exceptional Storytelling” focuses on what it takes to write high impact fiction in today’s genre driven ageMaass decided to write the book after he noticed commercial genre fiction dominated The New York Times’ best seller list for hardcovers as expected but the trade paperback list featured literary fiction His conclusion was that a new kind of fiction was emerging— and that the best 21st Century fiction combined proven commercial story telling techniues with high impact literary writing that exhibited powerful themes and emotions In an interview on the popular blog Writer Unboxed Maass discussed what the book is about “It’s about the death of genre or accurately the liberation from genre boxes—including the “literary” box It’s about creating fiction that’s powerful free and uniuely your own It’s about how we change the world” Maass saidhttpwriterunboxedcom20121003t One of the most lessons Maass imparts to writers is the need to dig deep into their own emotions to create high impact characters and stories“The characters who resonate most widely today don’t merely reflect our times they reflect ourselves That’s true whether we’re talking about genre fare historicals satire or serious literary stuff” he writes “Revealing human truths means transcending tropes peering into the past with fresh eyes unearthing all that is hidden and moving beyond what is easy and comfortable to write what is hard and even painful to face“Get out of the past Get over trends To write high impact 21st century fiction you must start by becoming highly personal Find your voice yes but than that challenge yourself to be unafraid independent open aware and true to your own heart You must become your most authentic self”Maass urges writers to consider carefully their characters’ inner and outer journeys These journeys are different but inter connected Each chapter ends with a series of uestions and advice specific to character and storyAction and tension are important to sustain the reader’s interest but Maass urges writers to consider impact He writes “Clever twists and turns are only momentarily attention grabbing Relentless forward driving action high tension and cliffhangers do serve to keep readers’ eyeballs on the page but don’t necessarily engage their hearts By the same token a dutifully rendered reality reviewers call such writing “closely observed” may cause readers to catch their breath once in a while but the effect doesn’t last long Not enough is happening and when it does it feels underwhelming How then can commercial novelists construct plots that have true power? How can literary writers conjure events that give their work long lasting effect?“The answer in all cases is to create events of enormous impact If an event is external excavate its inner meaning If a moment is internal push it out the door and make it do something large real permanent and hard to miss Whatever your assignment you won’t find it easy It’s not natural to you since your tendency is to hold back”If you are a novice writer I recommend first reading “Writing the Breakout Novel” before tackling this book If you are an experienced writer I highly recommend this book

  6. says:

    How I Came To Read This Book I was researching some good recent writing tomes and this one is pretty high ranked on Goodreads so I gave it a whirl The Plot Essentially Donald Maass is deconstructing what makes runaway bestsellers in today's literary world what they are He notes early on that many of today's top books defy genre but still have commonalities namely by tapping into the toolbox of high impact storytelling techniues Each of those general techniues and sub activities are expounded upon with semi relevant examples seriously sometimes I didn't fully see the connectionall written since 2001 At the conclusion of each chapter he gives you about 30 50 different activities uestions ideas to integrate into your own story The idea isn't to use EVERY last techniue or your book would be a hot hella mess but to really challenge your story to come out of the expectedThe Good The Bad I guess the most important thing to note about this book is that it's not for someone that's trying to learn how to write a novel The 'advice' given in each chapter feels kind of fluffy and far ranging; compared to Story Engineering it was very very unfocused Really this book is for someone that is partway through a manuscript or really done or close to done a manuscript but wants to polish it up before sending it off to editors or agents If you are in that state or you are approaching that state I think you'll appreciate this book that much even if I felt like some of the advice activities were a little extreme On the plus side there were some genuine nuggets of clarity that make this book worth a first and a second look Like the other writing tomes I've been perusing lately I can see myself keeping this on my desk and using it for inspiration or for 'checking' my work I think I need to go through the body copy again not just the helpful and insightful 'techniues' checklists and highlight the parts that really resonated with me Ironically enough Maass talks about micro tension and hooking the reader from sentence to sentence so as not to skim a passage This book unfortunately is stuffed with a lot of skimmable content It's also worth nothing that although it's awesome his examples are all uite recent and I've read about half of them if you are intrigued by a novel's premise when he first introduces it you may want to stop reading as he spoils a LOT of bloody books But you know the books he picked are pretty smart throughout ones that have really entered the zeitgeist to varying degrees And kudos for mentioning uite a few YA bestsellers including Maze Runner The Hunger Games Before I Fall among others including Harry Potter Again I don't think this is a book you'll take much away from unless you have a copy on your desk and you're looking to really strengthen your manuscript Beginner aspiring writers seriously look elsewhere Budding authors with a solid story under their belt be prepared to have your 'perfect' story shook up a bitThe Bottom Line Useful for a certain type of writer at a certain stage in the writing game Suffers a bit from overly fluffy 'advice' but grounds itself in real extreme exciting activities and ideasAnything Memorable? Fun fact I tried to start this book in December when I was in the throes of the flu My brain capsized as I tried to read it so I postponed till the new year I think it was for the best as reading this as a follow up to Story Engineering makes sense60 Book Challenge? Book #9 in 2014

  7. says:

    The first time I read this book I skimmed over the uestions at the end of each segment they really reuire deep thought and the time and space for it and I still found it uite useful in wrapping my head around where I wanted my work to go I knew I'd have to revisit it before I went back to the revision drawing board and this time I focused on the uestions I just finished and it has catapulted my outlook on my writing life and the work itself into a whole new light and I've been at this for many years I have it on my Kindle but I just ordered a bound copy for easy flipping during revsion sessions If you are a writer looking to up your game buy this book

  8. says:

    A thought provoking look at writing fiction It was the right book for me to be reading now As with all of Maass's book there is insight and then practical exercise to push your writing further It's a book I will return to again and again

  9. says:

    I always find Donald Maass' books on writing enormously helpful and this book was no exception Although some of the content seemed to be similar to his book The Fire in Fiction the sections on deepening the emotional intensity were excellent and much needed at this stage in my current work in progress I enjoy the exercisesuestions he gives at the end of each chapter I don't sit down and implement them all but they are certainly good food for thought especially if you have a scene that just isn't working but you're not sure why I'd recommend this book to any writer

  10. says:

    Maass as always has some great advice here for livening up your fiction if your draft is feeling stale Much of it sounded similar to what he offered in The Fire in Fiction and Writing the Breakout Novel though the spin here is that the modern audience and agent doesn't have the time for your boring assed fiction Do EVERYTHING YOU CAN to make sure your characters are memorable your plots well paced and your endings so astounding their heads will explode It's a tall orderI came away feeling rather overloaded with suggestions too Not necessarily a bad thing but I was somewhat reminded of my skating coach back in the day helping me learn a jump or a spin My coach could show me examples of the maneuver being done well and he could offer a lot of suggestions for different ways to hold my shoulders position my feet or stretch my body Not all of them were actually useful though because it was impossible for him to predict the ripple effects of a single change Without even considering that he'd just throw a bunch of advice at me to see what worked Some of it resulted in some rather exaggerated and incorrect results which were made even worse when he made five suggestions at onceSame for Maass's advice particularly in the battery of lists at the end of each chapter Think of something your character would never say Make them say it What's the most improbable thing your character would do at the climactic moment of the book? Make them do it What's an ironclad rule of your genre? Break it You can't do ALL of these things or else you're going to end up with a manuscript as spastic as my first attempts at double axels That's my sense anywayIf you're in the mood to wade through it all however there are some good ideas here for experimenting with your fiction The lists are themed I know but they end up making the book as a whole feel less cohesive than the others I mentioned I don't think Writing 21st Century Fiction is bad but I would recommend The Fire in Fiction instead

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