7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Nancy Kress Rocks
Nancy Kress is an excellent teacher. I was one of her students at Clarion. But for writers who can't benefit from her teaching in person, they can read this book. I've been using it in my writing classes for two semesters and I love it.
Not only does she explain concepts clearly and concisely, but she has an excellent feel for presenting this information to the...
Published on Oct. 19 2003 by KTB
6 of 16 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Too 'literary' in orientation
My first impression of this book was that I was reading an English professor's view on writing. If Nancy Kress isn't an English professor she certainly should be but, unfortunately, that particular profession is more of a hindrance than help to a writer of good popular fiction.
On finishing the book, this suspicion was sustained by her constant reference to works of...
Published on Oct. 31 2002 by Don R Waterman
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5.0 out of 5 stars Must Have,
This review is from: Elements of Fiction Writing - Beginnings, Middles & Ends (Paperback)Gets you in from the first page of the introduction. Explains how different people have problems with different sections of the novel writing process. Kress breaks down the elements of each section, gives examples of good and poor efforts in those areas, and has writing exercises at the end of each chapter. Can be read and re-read over and over as you progress through your own novel.
5.0 out of 5 stars If you want to write, you need this book,
This review is from: Elements of Fiction Writing - Beginnings, Middles & Ends (Paperback)The further into this book I read, the more impressed I become with Nancy Kress.
Many people don't understand the mechanics involved in writing a story. She "sits" the reader down and explains the best way to start a story from the first sentence. She then goes into the first scene, and even into the second scene! She explains the things necessary to include in a good opening, and also gives examples of poor ones. I find this approach to be the best way to hammer home the ideas.
She then goes into 'middles,' and later 'ends' of stories, and explains the best ways not to [upset] off your reader, by having a story, for example, where you spend six hundred pages falling in love with the main character, only to have him killed off on the last page for no reason. You pulled the old "bait and switch"!Your next book, having not even been published, just lost a reader!
I would rather have this book, than almost any other in my rather large collection.
5.0 out of 5 stars Extremely Helpful, Very Practical, No Nonsense,
This review is from: Elements of Fiction Writing - Beginnings, Middles & Ends (Paperback)After reading "Beginnings, Middles and Ends," any beginning writer will have many of the tools needed to put together a good story or novel. Kress takes the reader through a step-by-step process that makes you think, "It's so simple. Why didn't I think of that?" It's so simple because Kress has expertly targeted the areas that most writers have trouble with and has offered workable solutions. Her writing is very clear and readable. The examples and exercises alone are worth the price of the book. If you are interested in writing fiction and can only buy one book, this is the one.
5.0 out of 5 stars A Must for all Beginning Writers,
This review is from: Elements of Fiction Writing - Beginnings, Middles & Ends (Paperback)I've not been a fan of learning to do something by reading, but this book has turned me around. It is fantastic. It gives really good guidelines of how to approach the three areas of a story and the activities to have you work on your stories are really inspiring. I used this book to workshop a story I had written and I now believe it's the best story I've written yet. I'll be using the ideas and formula's in this book for a long time.
5.0 out of 5 stars How to turn an okay manuscript into a winner,
This review is from: Elements of Fiction Writing - Beginnings, Middles & Ends (Paperback)I read this book when I was revising a manuscript. Nancy Kress shows how to make all the parts of a novel connect to provide a satisfactory reading experience. Her section on endings was particularly strong, and helped to transform my last page from merely so-so to five paragraphs that sum up the message of the story in a powerful and readable piece of exposition and dialogue. This book is ideal if your unruly story is escaping from your control, or if it doesn't deliver its message with the power you know it could. Helpful for the beginning novelist who needs assistance shaping a story as well as for the experienced novelist who wants to increase his or her mastery in the craft of writing.
5.0 out of 5 stars Rating the Elements of Fiction Writing series,
By A Customer
This review is from: Elements of Fiction Writing - Beginnings, Middles & Ends (Paperback)I've read all the books in the Elements of Fiction Writing series and this is how I'd rank them.
"Scene & Structure" "Characters & Viewpoint" "Beginnings, Middles & Ends"
The above three books are invaluable -- must reads. They are the best of the series, in my opinion, and are packed with good information on every page. Well-done.
"Conflict, Action & Suspense" "Description" "Plot" "Manuscript Submission" "Setting"
The above five books are good, solid reads. Again, they contain good information and cover the subject decently.
"Voice & Style" "Dialogue"
To me, the last two books need to be rewritten. They are by far the weakest of the series. Both suffer from an annoying style, particularly Dialogue, and both are very skimpy on real information. Neither one is very helpful.
This is the order in which I'd recommend reading them.
5.0 out of 5 stars The best in this series,
This review is from: Elements of Fiction Writing - Beginnings, Middles & Ends (Paperback)My favorite in this series, this book is the definitive source in describing how important each part of your book is to the overall story. I ended up re-writing the first three chapters of my novel based on the author's excellent advice. She gives specific examples of how to grab the reader from the very first sentence, keep him/her reading the first few pages, and holding their attention all the way to the climax. A must for any writer's library.
5.0 out of 5 stars So good I've read it twice,
This review is from: Elements of Fiction Writing - Beginnings, Middles & Ends (Paperback)An excellent book on writing. Using the same example throughout the book, Kress shows you step-by-step (without being dogmatic!) how to write a well-crafted story. Her advice is so much common sense you'll be smacking yourself. Also a good book to refer to while you're writing. Not all how-to books can make that claim. Heartily recommended.
5.0 out of 5 stars The Best Yet,
By A Customer
This review is from: Elements of Fiction Writing - Beginnings, Middles & Ends (Paperback)I found this book to be extremely useful. I have many books that I look through in an attempt to improve my own writing, and of all of them, Kress' was the most useful. Even as I read it, I was able to think of ways to apply it to my own writing. Kress acknowledges that different writers do things different ways and takes that into account. She uses one example consistently throughout, which makes it easier for readers to understand how to apply what they are reading. She makes sure to use other examples as well, to show why it is important to do something a certain way, instead of simply stating that it is important and giving an all too brief explanation. I found this book so useful that I am going to look for more of Nancy Kress' books on writing technique.
5.0 out of 5 stars Invaluable!,
By A Customer
This review is from: Elements of Fiction Writing - Beginnings, Middles & Ends (Paperback)This book, along with "Plot" by Ansen Dibbell and "Description" by Monica Wood are my favorites of the "Elements of Fiction" series by Writer's Digest Books.
Nancy Kress gives a clear and concise guide to keeping your momentum going when beginning a novel or short story. She offers practical advice on most, if not all, areas of fiction writing (e.g. characterization, plots, style). Best of all, she does all of this in an encouraging manner that makes you believe you *can* get through and eventually write the story you've envisioned in your mind.
I find her approach extremely helpful and as a result, I ended up buying her book on "Dynamic Characters" as well. I only wish she could write more fiction technique books!
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Elements of Fiction Writing - Beginnings, Middles & Ends by Nancy Kress (Paperback - March 15 1999)
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