Book Review: How to Write a Damn Good Novel II by James N. Frey


Cover of "How to Write a Damn Good Novel:...
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Book Review: How To Write A Damn Good Novel II by James N. Frey


Traci Kenworth




St. Martin’s Press 1994                                     `Fiction




I’m going to take a quote from the book: “This book covers advanced techniques such as how to make your characters not just dynamic but memorable, how to heighten the reader’s sympathy and identification with the characters, how to intensify suspense to keep the reader gripped, how to make a contract with the reader and stick to it, how to avoid the fiction writer’s seven deadly mistakes, and perhaps most important of all, how to write with passion.”


There is so much packed into this craft book that it’s heavenly to read. I’ve had this one sitting on my shelves for years and as part of my effort to re-read craft books and focus on the ones that truly helped me, this is one of them. James N. Frey has a no-nonsense approach to writing that I’m sure worked well during his lectures. This book will help anyone who wants to write fiction or non-fiction, genre or literary.


He took a winding path to become the published writer that he is and this is something I can identify with as I set aside my own writing during marriage and the early years of raising two children by myself before returning to it full force six years ago. Passion is indeed something I think that is vital to the business if you’re to succeed. It gets you through those dark times, the rejections, the absolute heartbreak you face. I believe it’s what motivates those of us who keep at it, to keep trying.


This book stresses the importance of communication with your reader. We need to gain their trust, their confidence, and in the end, tell them a story that resonates with them. Without our audience, we have no future. This doesn’t mean you don’t write the story you envision, rather that you enhance it so that they enjoy it as well as you do. There will always be critics, of course, but it is the reader who we must listen to and share our journey with whether that path includes hobbits or zombies. Readers want to care about your characters, cheer them on, cry at their losses, and in the end, part with them as friends.




6 thoughts on “Book Review: How to Write a Damn Good Novel II by James N. Frey

  1. This sounds like a great book for writers to read. I also approach my story from the communication side. Gain the readers trust and keep it. Nothing more, nothing less. 🙂


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