Elements of Fiction Writing: Beginnings, Middles, and Ends by Nancy Kress Book Review

Review by: dancingonrain

This book is written in three sections.  Beginnings, middles, and ends.  It is written in a way to help the aspiring writer who may be struggling with one of the above or all of the above.  The book provides detailed exercises, descriptions, advice, and examples to help s/he breakthrough whichever of the three sections s/he finds the most difficult to write.

While the reader only needs to read about the section that gives him/her the most difficulty, I still found the book, as a whole, helpful anyway.  I thought the author made some good points.  Some of the information you may have already known, but it was still presented in a clear and helpful way.  I also felt like this book may help some writers that have a “writer’s block” in particular to one or more of these sections.

One thing I appreciated was that Kress did talk a little bit about what may or may not turn off editors and publishers throughout each of the sections and how a writer really only has the first 3-5 paragraphs to grab an editors or publisher’s attention for a short story and about 5 pages for a novel, which makes those beginnings even more important.  And then she discussed how to refine the start of your book.

One thing I learned, but really is actually quite obvious, is that if you struggle during the beginning, middle, or end, or even more than one part, then the chances that your very beginning set up are well done, are not high.  She really emphasized how one section influences the other and how everything is connected to one another.  If you are struggling with a specific part, chances are that the problem has actually originated earlier than where you are now.  She then went on to discuss how to rework it to make everything flow better.

Overall, I thought this book was a valuable source, but whether or not you need to buy it really depends on the writer him/herself.  If you’re short on money, or just don’t want to spend money on another book, I’m sure you could find this one at a library or online somewhere.  I found it a useful source to me so I did buy a copy to keep in my bookcase.