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The story that comes out on the page isn t the same as the story in your head, Nancy Kress says on the very first page I know this feeling intimately, and from this moment on I was hooked.I m very serious about writing, and I also have a tendency to research things I m interested in very thoroughly I ve done this with every RPG and MMO I ve ever played I ve done it with shows that have complex mythologies So, it probably comes as no surprise that I ve read quite a few books about writing The story that comes out on the page isn t the same as the story in your head, Nancy Kress says on the very first page I know this feeling intimately, and from this moment on I was hooked.I m very serious about writing, and I also have a tendency to research things I m interested in very thoroughly I ve done this with every RPG and MMO I ve ever played I ve done it with shows that have complex mythologies So, it probably comes as no surprise that I ve read quite a few books about writing As of this review I ve finished five, including this book, and I am working on threeSo far no book has helped me as much as this one I took notes on this book, of every chapter The chapter with the least notes clocks in at 200 words The chapter with the most clocks in at over 800 That s how packed full of useful information this book is.So what makes this book so great Kress goes over every topic a new writer needs to write credible, publishable prose, and to structure a satisfying story, and she does it in a way that immediately makes sense She also does something I ve yet to see other writing books do, which is to take into account every type of writer Every new lesson acknowledges the differences between novelists and short story writers outliners and discovery writers, and it offers specific advice for each As someone who is just starting out, I write a lot of short stories simply because they re faster and easier to finish Finding information specific to short stories in this book was an unexpected but welcome surprise.Long story short, this is one of the best books about the technical side of writing fiction Period If you need tips, advice, structure, direction, buy this book If you are instead looking for inspiration, you won t find much of it here, but one book can t have everything, now can it Beginnings, Middles Ends, by Nancy Kress is one of the best writing how to s that I ve read, yet The book is targeted at both novelists and short story writers of any experience Kress assumes little writing theory on the part of the reader and yet manages to be neither patronizing nor cliche when explaining basics I swear some books are written from the same template not this one Kress also takes care to emphasize that different writers work in different ways, addressing the pantsters Beginnings, Middles Ends, by Nancy Kress is one of the best writing how to s that I ve read, yet The book is targeted at both novelists and short story writers of any experience Kress assumes little writing theory on the part of the reader and yet manages to be neither patronizing nor cliche when explaining basics I swear some books are written from the same template not this one Kress also takes care to emphasize that different writers work in different ways, addressing the pantsters , who like to write without plotting, acknowledging that, for them, most of the advice will be relevant only after the first draft is done but it will be relevant So what s so good about this book In short it focuses on the writing There s no showing off the author s understanding of Georges Polti, or proving that she bleeds Joseph Campbell There are no structure formulas three acts with seven turning points, no nine sequences, no 18 dips and crests of the roller coaster, Kress has written a book which focuses on what you, the writer, need to know and do to organize your story s structure Not that there s no theory, there s plenty, but it s all contextual, so it is clear how to apply it How does Kress do this Well ahem it s how the book is structured The title of the book is its structure Starting with Beginnings, Kress discusses everything that needs to be considered when writing a beginning, which, of course, touches on everything from characterization, to language, to how the beginning effects the middle and the end She acknowledges writers who find beginnings easy and offers assistance for those who find them difficult, addressing the various reasons one can become stuck while writing a beginning Kress then gives the same detailed treatment for each of Middle and End, followed by a section on Revision I highly recommend this book to any writer, whether they are new to writing and don t know where to begin, or are wallowing uncertainly in a WIP I particularly recommend this book to structure phobics because, whether they think about it consciously while writing a first draft or not, a writer needs to know their craft and this book is a pain free way to learn I ll be putting this one on the storycraft Book Chat list This how to do book on beginnings, middles and ends helps the writer with writing skills In beginnings the author discusses the implicit promise writers make with the readers It instructs the writer on the importance of the first sentence, the first paragraph and the first scene.The middle looks at developing the promise and keeping your novel or short story on track The writer does this through answering three questions 1 Whose story is this 2 Who is the point of view character and 3 This how to do book on beginnings, middles and ends helps the writer with writing skills In beginnings the author discusses the implicit promise writers make with the readers It instructs the writer on the importance of the first sentence, the first paragraph and the first scene.The middle looks at developing the promise and keeping your novel or short story on track The writer does this through answering three questions 1 Whose story is this 2 Who is the point of view character and 3 What is the throughline plotline It also covers moving from scene to scene and planning for the climax.The ends deliver the implicit promise It discusses the climax, denouement and epilogue Ends point out the importance of the last scene, last paragraph and the last sentence The final chapter is on revision.This book discusses writer s block It covers both the novel and the short story It has exercises at the end of each chapter for the writer to practice Overall, the book is a good resource for the novice writer This was excellent, not least because it s very well laid out, with a clear flow from point to point and chapter to chapter As you would hope from a book on beginnings, middles and ends All too many craft books, I m finding, don t have much to teach anyone who isn t a beginner This is an exception Even though some of the ground it covers is inevitably ground I ve seen covered before, it does it so clearly and thoroughly that it provides fresh insight For example, the section on endings gav This was excellent, not least because it s very well laid out, with a clear flow from point to point and chapter to chapter As you would hope from a book on beginnings, middles and ends All too many craft books, I m finding, don t have much to teach anyone who isn t a beginner This is an exception Even though some of the ground it covers is inevitably ground I ve seen covered before, it does it so clearly and thoroughly that it provides fresh insight For example, the section on endings gave me an aha moment about one of my own stories The editor I d submitted to liked it apart from the ending, and requested a rewrite I realised, reading Nancy Kress s explanation, why the rewritten ending had worked where the original had not it directly addressed the conflict which started in the first paragraph and was developed through the middle of the story This was the main point I gained from the book the beginning, middle and end form a unity However, there s also useful material on characterisation, motivation, promises, climaxes, and a structured approach to revision.The author helpfully points out some differences between short stories and novels along the way She also makes clear something that had been vague to me how non plotted or literary stories are supposed to work, and how to signal that you re writing one of those, and not a plotted story I believe I ll now approach the non plotted stories I read withappreciation for what the author is doing.This is the second book I ve read in the Elements of Fiction Writing series the first being the highly usefulScene and Structure, but I ll be searching out the others, given the excellent quality of both the ones I ve read so far ( READ KINDLE ) ♹ Beginnings, Middles & Ends ♼ Get your stories off to a roaring startKeep them tight and crisp throughoutConclude them with a wallopIs the story or novel you ve been carrying around in your head the same one you see on the page Or does the dialogue suddenly sound flat and predictable Do the events seem to ramble Translating a flash of inspiration into a compelling story requires careful crafting The words you choose, how you describe characters, and the way you orchestrate conflict all make the difference the difference between a story that is slow to begin, flounders midway, or trails off at the end and one that holds the interest of readers and editors to the final pageBy demonstrating effective solutions for potential problems at each stage of your story, Nancy Kress will help youhook the editor on the first three paragraphsmake and keep your story s implicit promise build drama and credibility by controlling your proseDozens of exercises help you strengthen your short story or novel Plus, you ll sharpen skills and gain new insight intothe price a writer pays for flashbackssix ways characters should reveal themselvestechniques for writing and rewritingLet this working resource be your guide to successful stories from beginning to end A how to write book.With plenty of useful advice about how the beginning sets up the book s promise, transitions to your second scene, development of the middle, point of view structures, having it all collide in the climax, and the denouement Getting unstuck, working out how to develop the character rather than pull things like rabbits out of hats, and. This mid sized book about writing has an oversized amount of knowledge packed into it Nancy Kress has won four Nebula and two Hugo awards, written over 28 books, and it shows Divided into three parts, appropriately, Beginnings, Middles and Endings, with three chapters in each part, and yes, a very helpful index at the back of the book She goes from your opening line, your opening scene, to last paragraph, the last sentence.Terrific, useful, step by step, craft advice on how to put the qualiti This mid sized book about writing has an oversized amount of knowledge packed into it Nancy Kress has won four Nebula and two Hugo awards, written over 28 books, and it shows Divided into three parts, appropriately, Beginnings, Middles and Endings, with three chapters in each part, and yes, a very helpful index at the back of the book She goes from your opening line, your opening scene, to last paragraph, the last sentence.Terrific, useful, step by step, craft advice on how to put the qualities that make your beginnings original and interesting, and your prose credible How to stay on track in the middle of the story and stick to the promise you made the reader in the beginning And how to fill that promise in the ending And, oh yes, exercises for those who like them The part I personally found most helpful, was Satisfying Endings Delivering on the Promise, Chapter 7 I read and re read this one as I was writing the last few chapters of my current novel It helped me avoid some mistakes that could easily have worked their way into the book When you ve spent over a year writing a novel, and revised it several times based on changes the characters and action demanded, you can write an ending that no longer meets the need of satisfying the reader who has read all those pages But not if you heed her advice Here are her four rules for creating a satisfying climax 1 The climax must satisfy the view of life implied in your story.2 The climax must deliver emotion3 The climax must deliver an appropriate level of emotion.4 The climax must be logical to your plot and your story.Sounds deceptively simple Nancy Kress devotes 17 pages to it There s a depth in this and her other sections , that might take a couple of readings before the light goes on, you say I get it, and then you rewrite that last chapter or two.I recommend this book to anyone who writes, particular novelists And I recommend having a yellow highlighter available, because, you will want to highlight sections for your re reads I don t often find the time to read how to write books, but I ve been meaning to find some additional strategies for helping students who get stuck in the middle of their novels This book is relatively short and simple, but I found all the advice to be sound and practical Almost all of the end of the chapter exercises are versions of what I call Field Reconnaissance, which is the best way for a practicing writer to learn so clearly I endorse them I did find some strategies to add to my list I don t often find the time to read how to write books, but I ve been meaning to find some additional strategies for helping students who get stuck in the middle of their novels This book is relatively short and simple, but I found all the advice to be sound and practical Almost all of the end of the chapter exercises are versions of what I call Field Reconnaissance, which is the best way for a practicing writer to learn so clearly I endorse them I did find some strategies to add to my list and I also found the brief discussion of what makes a prologue valid to be useful This book was extremely helpful to me As I continue to write daily, my writing improves, but I often find myself getting stuck in the middle of my stories and also either not ending them sufficiently or at all Nancy Kress offers excellent detailed advice for all three aspects of the story Most meaningful her explanation of how these aspects will differ from short story to novel. I think this book would benefit most the person who has never taken a creative writing class, but maybe feels a bit stuck in teaching themselves It covers all of the basics, and it puts into words the things that if you re a frequent reader you ve probably intuited as a important factor in good writing without knowing why credibility, fulfilling your promises to the reader, using details to show your characters as unique beings and not placeholders To some writers, this advice might seem t I think this book would benefit most the person who has never taken a creative writing class, but maybe feels a bit stuck in teaching themselves It covers all of the basics, and it puts into words the things that if you re a frequent reader you ve probably intuited as a important factor in good writing without knowing why credibility, fulfilling your promises to the reader, using details to show your characters as unique beings and not placeholders To some writers, this advice might seem too basic I picked up this book specifically for the Endings section I realized that I knew wayabout writing beginnings and have a bad habit of starting new projects and never finishing that I wanted to correct The beginnings section felt very basic to me and a not small section of the middles was devoted to writers block I did appreciate the simple and direct way everything was explained and all advice felt practical, even if it didn t feel especially new to me This is why I m giving this book 4 stars instead of 3 There wasn t a whole lot to take away from the Endings section, but again the advice was practical and Kress posed a couple of questions that made me rethink a direction for one of my stories and I know it will be stronger for it