|The "Hush Hush" Secrets to Writing Fiction That Sells
By Dr. Maxine E. Thompson
Black Butterfly Press
2nd Printing, April 2004 96-pages, $20.00
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Review by Patricia L. Fry
Maxine Thompson knows how to sell fiction—she has written several novels and she is selling them. In fact, I watched as reader after reader stopped at her booth during a recent book festival and walked away with one or two of her books under their arms. The Hush Hush Secrets to Writing Fiction That Sells comes in two styles—a paperback print book (size 8.5 x 11) with plastic comb binding or an e-book. And both books are filled with the stuff that good novels are made of.
Thompson’s approach is straightforward and interesting. She explains the blueprint for a novel and she gives character, dialogue, point of view and plot development exercises and even self-editing tips. Do you want to know how to translate past business experience into your writing, the importance of a mentor and the correct way to use "tags" ("he said," "she said,")? You’ll find these things and much more throughout the pages of this book.
Thompson says in her introduction: "Fiction is made up of narrative, action, description, setting, character development, sensory detail, language use, particularity, voice, reactions and revisions, just to name some of the parts. When the sum of all the parts works together, it’s like hearing a beautifully orchestrated symphony."
Thompson claims to have learned these hush hush secrets from experiences working with writers who have landed book deals or who have sold thousands of books or who have been on the bestseller lists. And she gives generously of her knowledge. I attempted to count her tips and information bites and I lost count at around 125, about one-quarter of the way through the book.
This writer gives 22 ideas for choosing your setting and 40 things to help you revise and self-edit your manuscript. She even offers a 14-step program for writers who don’t like to read. She says that "writers who don’t read" is an oxymoron. There are certain strengths that you build when you read the type of books you write. However, if you still refuse to read, Thompson’s 14 tips will help you to write as if you are well read.
Many of you will find Chapter 26 most interesting. It is called What makes for Writing Compelling Fiction. The author tells you the elements for a compelling fiction book. She suggests you show characterization that involves an inner life as well as external life. What qualities can you add to make a reader care? Thompson says, "Show the characters’ strengths as well as vulnerabilities."
Thompson’s book is easy to read and understand. I recommend it for any author of fiction no matter your level of experience. Even seasoned novelists will certainly learn something of value from this book.
Dr. Maxine Thompson is an award-winning writer, a literary agent and the author of several novels. She hosts three Internet radio shows. Learn more about Maxine and her books at http://www.maxinethompson.com. Watch for an interview with Dr. Maxine Thompson in an upcoming edition of the SPAWN Market Update.