I don’t know if this book is so good because it’s so well written or if it came along when I needed it. I suspect the former. Ms. Chester does a great job of making the material really accessible and practical while she teaches things I hadn’t read before in the dozen DIY writing books I’ve read this year. She takes the reader’s hand as she walks us through what a scene is and should be. She also describes the resolution of the scene (called a sequel) which I’d never heard of.
Although this book is about writing a fantasy novel primarily, she also takes other genres into consideration and even short stories. Actually, when you think about it, a good story is a good story and should contain the same basic building blocks. With each chapter, I learned something new and usable. As I was writing a fantasy novel at the time, I absorbed her teachings like a sponge. Whether it was how to deal with a saggy middle or the different types of conflict, I found all her advice very helpful.
I learned about the hidden story, action/reaction, and other valuable tools I had not seen covered in other DIY books. Written in 2016, the publishing portions were still valid and timely. My only nitpicks were that Ms. Chester uses a lot of her own writing as examples when examples probably aren’t needed as she gives great definitions. She also refers to other chapters in her book. Who really stops what they’re reading and turn to read a related chapter? But if those are the worst things I have to say about this book, it’s a keeper.
I also used it as I was writing a SF short story and found it very constructive, especially in the climax instruction. I had to rewrite part of it, but it’s a much better story as a result of reading and applying The Fantasy Fiction Formula to it. As I work on other, longer pieces, I may reread it again. It’s worth the price of the book just for learning about SPOOC (Situation, Protagonist, Objective, Opponent, Climax) and how to use it.
Thank you, Deborah Chester. You’ve been a big help.