Saturday, February 19, 2011
The Plot Thickens (even in a writing manual)
Title: The Plot Thickens: 8 Ways to Bring Fiction to Life
Author: Noah Lukeman
Pages: 240 pages
Summary: As a literary agent, Noah Lukeman hears thousands of book pitches a year. Often the stories sound great in concept, but never live up to their potential on the page. Lukeman shows beginning and advanced writers how to implement the fundamentals of successful plot development, such as character building and heightened suspense and conflict. Writers will find it impossible to walk away from this invaluable guide—-a veritable fiction-writing workshop—-without boundless new ideas. (source: goodreads.com)
My reaction: I love the American Fork D.I. thrift store. Honestly, most of the books that I've picked up and enjoyed lately have come from the dusty shelves of this D.I., including Noah Lukeman's The Plot Thickens. Although I had a limited budget on this thrift store run of $30 and nearly passed on this book (it was marked at a pricey $2), I splurged a bit and threw it in the basket. After finishing it, I'm now considering buying new copies to give to friends who would also enjoy a smart review of what makes good writing and how to shape writing into something that will stand out from the rest.
From the short bio on the back, it seems like Lukeman belongs to an elite set of New York literary agents, a daunting and glamorized group in my mind. To me, the idea of getting any kind of writing read and published is like winning the lottery: a feat so many dream about but only a few lucky winners somehow score. Lukeman, however, lays out a very realistic model for any kind of writer to rethink storytelling and its appeal to a large audience. The books reads like a how-to manual for anyone interested in taking writing to a refined level of accessibility, with each chapter focusing on a specific trait of writing. This isn't your boring Six Traits of Writing lesson from junior high, though. Lukeman effectively explores and models each trait of fiction using real world examples from successful novels and movies to highlight how and why these examples excelled in each trait. His passion for good writing is contagious, and I couldn't help stopping every few pages to jot down invaluable notes for my own writing.
Is this a novel with a storyline to enjoy on a lazy day? Certainly not. Instead, this is a guide for anyone who loves words and the infinite possibilities words open when put together masterfully. It's no wonder, then, that The Plot Thickens is required reading for upper-level writing courses across the country. Any reader, however, could relate to this book and walk away with a better appreciation for fine writing.