OK, I have been changing my review for this book a couple of times.
The first time I considered it was a three stars book because I was expecting someting else. Then I read the book again and I changed my mind about it. This is the third time I read it, and now I can say this book is mind blowing. If you want to write bestsellers this as a good place to come and learn.
I just love how the author defends commercial writing and puts it above the so-called "literature". In recent times I've come across people and schools that look down at commercial writing. They believe their "artful writing" is much more valuable. I think not. Koontz proves his case by talking about some of the most successful writers of all times. Does Dickens sound familiar? Well, he's just one example of many.
Also, there are hidden jewels in this text. For example, I bought a dvd workshop that talks about a very exclusive method to develop plot. This workshop claims that you will find this method in very few places. They sell this workshop with some degree of hype. Well, Koontz explains the whole thing in a couple of pages -no hype, just the truth about plot points common to all good selling fiction. So, with Koontz you get the very best information on how to grow a plot without hype.
Another example of the secrets in this book has to do with methodology. Like it or not, methodology is the most difficult aspect to grasp when writing. How does a writer create? How does a writer come up with story ideas? Well, I have had to search in many books on this topic. After searching a lot I found some very good ideas on the best methods to write stories. Then I came back and read Koontz again, and guess what? Yes! Some of those methods are right here.
I really don't know why the first time I read Koonts work I didn't see how rich and valuable it was. It has gone way up in my list of favorite creative writing books. It is now close to "Techniques of the Selling Writer" by Swain -which is still the best book I've found on creative writing so far.
Now, as time has passed I can see why many people like it. If you ask me, all I can say is that the book is not so much about technique. The book does address some techniques but the real main subject of this book is a way of thinking about good selling fiction. The author presents a series of arguments to support his idea of what he calls "main stream fiction". On the one hand there are "academic creative writing" books. Koonz gives reasons why you should run on the opposite direction when ever that approach to writing is trying to influence you. On the other hand, there are "formulaic genre books" such as mystery novels, romance novels, etc. Koonz gives reasons why you should not under any circumstance choose that path.
Without "academic fiction" and "genre fiction" what do we have left? Main stream fiction. The rest of the book is an explanation of how main stream fiction differs from "academic fiction" and "genre fiction".
In some ways this book has high dosses of Zen for writers. It is about your approach to writing and how to turn your writing into the most popular writing it can ever be.
Table of content.
1. A brief explanation of the author purpose.
2. Writing the great American novel.
3. The changing marketplace.
4. Creating and structuring a story line.
5. Action, action, action.
6. Heroes and heroines.
7. Creating believable characters.
8. Achieving plausibility through believable character motivation.
10. Grammar and Syntax.
12. Two Genres: Science Fiction and Mysteries.
13. A few more pitfalls to avoid.
14. Selling what you write.
15. Read, read, read.