If you’ve ever sat through a writer’s critique group that completely stymied your self-confidence as a writer, RUN, don’t walk to the computer or local bookstore to buy this book.
It is the antidote to the negative critique group experience and SO MUCH MORE.
Title is linked to Amazon and there are no spoilers ahead.
The full title of Jeff Gerke’s fabulous book is THE IRRESISTIBLE NOVEL: How to Craft an Extraordinary Story That Engages Readers from Start to Finish.
In this book, Gerke debunks the often quoted RULES FOR WRITERS that some members of writing critique groups wield like arrows to deflate their fellow writers.
From Gerke’s introduction:
“I believe in the power of writing peers to help elevate your fiction. Critique groups can be wonderful. However, they can also be toxic. Some of the most vehement enforcers of fiction rules–[cough] crit group Nazis [cough] are ruling critique groups across the land. Even if they’re well-meaning, they tend to implement the most paralyzing rules that the typical aspiring novelist will ever encounter.”
The first and major part of this book is entitled “FREE YOURSELF FROM THE PARALYZING RULES OF FICTION.” That alone is worth the purchase price of the book.
And so aptly named. As my father used to say, “Don’t get paralysis from analysis.” And yet, that’s just what happens at too many critique groups.
What I loved most about Gerke’s approach in this book is:
- he defines and describes the rule
- he details the position(s) of those opposed to the rule
- he details the position(s) of those in favor of the rule
- he gives HIS opinion of the rule with EXAMPLES from books and movies–his opinion is never presented as gospel–he never tells writers what to do and what not to do–he merely presents both sides, his opinion, and encourages writers to follow their own muse now that they have seen all sides of a “rule”
- he further details how to get past the gatekeepers (publishers and agents) if you choose to “violate” the rule
- each chapter ends with a fill in the blank manifesto in which you, the writer, can decide your position on the issue
Sounds great, right? But that’s not all Gerke provides here. After all, his title promises we’re going to learn how to craft an extraordinary story that engages our readers.
And here’s where the magic happens. Gerke presents scientific studies and evidence on how writers can use storytelling techniques to hook our readers and reel them in from Page One to The End.
He further explores three time-tested pioneering masters of narrative, characterization and persuasion and breaks down how writers today can apply age-old wisdom to their own craft.
Even if you are completely right-brained like me, and the mere talk of science and math puts you in a cold sweat, fear not. Gerke breaks down the scientific information in a palatable manner you can actually apply to your writing today. I nearly bled my highlighter dry in Part II THE GREAT COMMANDMENT OF FICTION and Part III THE BRAIN’S GREATEST HITS.
I am going to apply every bit of wisdom I learned from Jeff Gerke, himself a multi-published author, conference-speaker/teacher, and former owner of a publishing company. Starting with his book’s pithy Dedication:
To all the writers of fiction who have been harmed by the
so-called “rules of fiction”
May you find freedom and healing,
and may you sweep your readers away.
Happy reading and writing!
Susan J. Anderson
Foxy Writer Chick