Building on the foundation of his earlier book, Frey here provides additional inspiration and information for elevating your writing. At the heart of the book are two chapters discussing the importance of premise. He also addresses common errors—not the tired old grammatical ones, but real errors of art such as timidity and failure to be true to yourself. He ends with a section on writing with passion that contains one of my favorite quotes about writing: “You cannot soar with the eagles if you’re wasting your precious time gaggling with the geese.”
“Damn good” fiction is dramatic fiction, Frey insists, whether it is by Hemingway or Grisham, Le Carre or Ludlum, Austen or Dickens. Despite their differences, these authors’ works share common elements: strong narrative lines, fascinating characters, steadily building conflicts, and satisfying conclusions. Frey’s How to Write a Damn Good Novel is one of the most widely used guides ever published for aspiring authors. Here, in How to Write a Damn Good Novel, II, Frey offers powerful advanced techniques to build suspense, create fresher, more interesting characters, and achieve greater reader sympathy, empathy, and identification.
How to Write a Damn Good Novel, II also warns against the pseudo-rules often inflicted upon writers, rules such as “The author must always be invisible” and “You must stick to a single viewpoint in a scene,” which cramp the imagination and deaden the narrative. Frey focuses instead on promises that the author makes to the reader–promises about character, narrative voice, story type, and so on, which must be kept if the reader is to be satisfied. This book is rich, instructive, honest, and often tellingly funny about the way writers sometimes fail their readers and themselves.