Beyond the First Draft: The Art of Fiction

John Casey. Norton, $25.95 (256p) ISBN 978-0-393-24108-2
In this collection of essays, National Book Award–winning novelist Casey (Spartina) presents his take on the craft of writing fiction, or “things to think about, when your writing has got you lost in the woods.” In regards to humor (“What’s Funny”), he concludes that the best humor is grounded in something true. For sex scenes (“Sex and Violence”), he suggests that writers think in terms of “cathexis and release.” Throughout, he illustrates ideas with excerpts from published stories, the weight of which lands more effectively if readers are familiar with the quoted works. The reach from good story to instructive lesson on writing unfortunately often falls short. However, some of Casey’s anecdotes are especially insightful, such as his analogy that the right sexual tension in a story resembles a full glass with water “above the rim but kept in place by surface tension.” In a crowded field of writing reference books, this book does not substantially advance the genre, though it may appeal to Casey fans. Agent: Michael Carlisle, Inkwell Management. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 06/02/2014
Release date: 08/01/2014
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 256 pages - 978-0-393-35124-8
Open Ebook - 256 pages - 978-0-393-24400-7
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