Writing Craft Book Spotlight: The Emotional Craft of Fiction: How to Write the Story Beneath the Surface by Donald Maass

Like many writers out there, work and family obligations don’t really leave time or flexibility for attending writing conferences and retreats. Some are also hella expensive…

So I try to learn as much as I can on my own, and I’m always open to recommendations from writers. Craft books have been my ‘go-to’ for insights for all this writing: tools, process, structure and everything in between. I figured, since my blog is focused on all things writing, why not share with others?  I’ll also add here that advice is just that. Advice. Take what is useful. Accept that some advice, while good, may not work for you, for whatever reason. And that’s perfectly okay.

My Thoughts

The Emotional Craft of Fiction delves right into the meat and potatoes of writing: how to make the reader feel and experience a story.

As a writer, I’m always looking for ways to add tension and character depth so I was interested in reading this book for a long time. So when I saw the ebook on sale for only $1.20 on Amazon (yup, it was $9.99 when I was first interested), I clicked that ‘Buy Now with 1-Click’ button in a hurry!

This book did not disappoint. I highlighted many areas and I will surely refer to this book not only for inspiration but during the editing stages to check the emotional arcs of my characters journey. The book covers many topics and uses excerpts from well-known novels so you can see the techniques in action.

Chapters cover

Inner Versus Outer (Showing vs Telling)

The Emotional World (Stirring Higher Emotions and Moral Stakes)

Emotions, Meaning, and Arc (Tension vs Energy)

The Emotional Plot (Emotional Midpoint, Failure and Defeat, Catalyst and Catharsis, Emotional Goals in Scenes)

The Reader’s Emotional Journey (High Moments, Symbols, Story Worlds, Change and Feelings Without Names, the Emotional Mirror)

Ten Quotes

Here are ten quotes I highlighted that I found particularly insightful.

  1. “Find what gave you the emotion; what the action was that gave you the excitement. Then write it down making it clear so the reader will see it too and have the same feeling you had.”
  2. “A story situation is an emotional elephant. There are many ways of looking at and feeling about what’s happening at any given moment.”
  3. “Be obvious and tell readers what to feel, and they won’t feel it. Light an unexpected match, though, and readers will ignite their own feelings, which may well prove to be the ones that are primary and obvious.”
  4. “Creating a world that is emotionally involving for readers means raising questions and concerns about that world.”
  5. “When characters celebrate themselves, make sure that the celebration in tinged with apprehension.”
  6. “Use ‘I am’ to create uneasiness. Use ‘I am not’ to create doubt.”
  7. “Artful fiction surprises readers with their own feelings.
  8. “Details have the power of suggestion. Suggestion evokes feelings in writers, drawing them out rather than pounding them with emotional hammer blows.”
  9. “Plot happens outside but story happens inside.”
  10. “Taking a stand for what’s right is without question one of the greatest emotional tools available.”

 

Have you read The Emotional Craft of Fiction?

What did you think?

 

Craft BookHighlight

 

 

 

 

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