Craft & Technique, by Paul Raymond Martin

Finished 2-2-09, rating 3/5, writing instruction, pub. 2005

High tension dialogue calls for fewer beats (less stage business).  More beats will elongate a scene, as when characters get to know each other  over dinner.

Never resolve one conflict before presenting another.

The first idea that occurs to you for resolving a plot problem will be the first to occur to the reader as well.  So think again.

In fiction, as in real life, what is suggested is far more powerful than what is revealed.

This is just a sampling of the tips you will receive in this small book.  It looks and reads like the gift book Life”e Little Instruction Book, but is chock full of advice for writers, most specifically fiction writers.  There are more than 300 thoughtful reasons to buy this book.  It covers characterization, dialogue, plot, fiction techniques, style and voice.

There was no groundbreaking insight here, but I did enjoy it and think it worthwhile.  The suggestions were good and forced you to look at your own work and possibly find weak spots.  Some of what was covered I’ve read other places, but in this format it worked to jump start my thoughts and ideas, instead of making me want to take notes.

Included are quotes from established and diverse authors such as Mark Twain, David Sedaris,Virginia Woolf, Elmore Leonard, Vladimir Nabokov, and James Michener.  There were also a few exercises sprinkled throughout and some solid suggestions for name choice and editing dialogue.

This is not an instruction book.  It is more of an inspiration book.  I read the whole thing in a hour or so and came away with a few new insights and ideas and a renewed excitement to start writing.

This is a wonderful gift for the writer in your life.  It is published by Writer’s Digest Books and is on sale -50% off- for $4.50 (link here), which is a good deal for a thoughtful gift.