How to Write a Damn Good Novel, II: Advanced Techniques For Dramatic Storytelling
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How to Write a Damn Good Novel, II: Advanced Techniques For Dramatic Storytelling

3.91 of 5 stars 3.91  ·  rating details  ·  310 ratings  ·  32 reviews
"Damn good" fiction is dramatic fiction, Frey insists, whether it is by Hemingway or Grisham, Le Carre or Ludlum, Austen or Dickens. Despite their differences, these authors' works share common elements: strong narrative lines, fascinating characters, steadily building conflicts, and satisfying conclusions. Frey's How to Write a Damn Good Novel is one of the most widely us...more
ebook, 176 pages
Published April 1st 2011 by St. Martin's Press (first published 1994)
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D.L. Morrese
What makes a good novel? That depends on who you ask. 'Good' is a subjective term. It is largely a matter of taste. I found myself disagreeing with the author in several places on what constitutes a 'good' novel. For me, a 'good' novel includes an exploration of a philosophical idea or some significant point about humanity in general, concepts the writer of this book seems to dismiss as unnecessary, or at best secondary to conflict and emotion. A better title for this book might be 'How to Write...more
There are problems with this book, clearly problems with the entire idea that Frey has embarked on teaching, for he had to come up with a second book in his treatise on how to write a novel. This is a book that deals with the Craft of writing fiction. Throughout the work and the previous work, Frey is good enough to quote from many texts to support his concept on how to write your work.

Clearly it does work for him and others. It will see you to the finish of writing a novel. This book does add,...more
How to write a damn good novel II van James N. Frey is het Engelstalige vervolg op Zo schrijf je een verdomd goede roman (How to write a damn good novel).
Voor auteurs die echt wat met hun schrijven willen, is dit een van de beste schrijfboeken, denk ik. In negen hoofdstukken en ongeveer honderdvijftig pagina's krijgen we in duidelijke taal en aan de hand van goede voorbeelden (o.a. Carrie van Stephen King, De Trial van Franz Kafka, Jaws, Pride and Prejudice) uitgelegd hoe je de karakters vlees a...more
Even better than its predecessor, which is often not the case; also, and also often not true, this is useful either with or without having read the first book.

The tone is breezy, informal, and direct. The author provides a lot of specific advice - at least as much of it what not to do as what to do - and the reasons. Often, he gives examples of mistakes he made early in his own career and the lessons he learned. He also provides plentiful (anonymous) examples of things other writers did that did...more
I've been reading this book bit-by-bit as part of a self-imposed weekly 'study day'. I've found bits of it really useful and bits of it really-not useful. What I tend to think nowadays is that reading technique books is nearly always valuable, even you don't learn anything new or revolutionary, as long as you read a wide variety and approach them all with an open but grounded mind.

The biggest problem with this book is that it claims to deal with 'advanced techniques'. I imagine most serious wri...more
In this book (published as How To Write Damn Good Fiction in the UK, FYI), James N. Frey moves on from the basic tenents of storytelling and offers "advanced" suggestions. Note the sarcastic quote marks -- I really don't think advice on defining your premise and strengthening your voice is advanced stuff. I finished the book with a distinct feeling of, "yeah, and...?"

Damn Good is best when it's just Regular Joe, James Frey talking about his experiences on the long, long road of learning how to w...more
This is pretty much a book for housewives who "just have that novel" kicking around in their heads that they've "been meaning to" write. Frey writes genre fiction (thrillers and mysteries), so this book really did nothing for me. His sense of humor is corny (middle-aged-style lameness) and the author tries a little too hard to be cute. In fact, most of this book is style and not substance: I took about 6 pages of notes on the whole thing. Maybe read my notes instead.

Also, Frey compares Kafka, Do...more
Arthur Mills
How to Write a Damn Good Novel II is a damn good book. Since the late 1990s, I attempted to write a novel but to no prevail. I had a great idea but I had no idea how to write a novel. In December 2008, I bought How to Write a Damn Good Novel and read the first page to the last page trying to soak up every word. I studied the book like a textbook. Months later, I bought Mr. Frey's follow-on book How to Write a Damn Good Novel II. I also studied this book like a textbook. My manuscript titled The...more
Terrible, terrible, terrible.
Not only were there typos but it failed to deliver its promise: they were not, in any way shape or form, advanced techniques. It was just a whole load of waffle!
It followed PEE (Point, Example, Explanation) which made me feel like I was back in High school, reading through a peer's essay but there were too many examples and too much explanation. On many occasions, I thought to myself, "Get to the point already!" .

I must briefly touch on the "advanced techniques". Des...more
Erin Coleman
It gave me a few good tips, but it was a little too heavy on metaphors and anecdotes.
Lisa Ahn
Written in 1994, it reads a bit dated now, especially the sections that deal with genre. Even so, I liked the chapter on bringing out the quirky side of every character -- "Of Wimps and Wackos: Creating Truly Memorable Characters." Frey gives some good examples there of how to magnify the wacky, exaggerating elements of a character to make them more vibrant and memorable. He encourages writers to "take some risks . . . make them fresh" (47). I also liked the emphasis on writing for your reader,...more
The examples were nice, even if I hadn't read most of them.
Samantha Cartmel
There are many pearls of wisdom in this book which any writer would benefit from reading. There are also many great examples of points being made, for example how to write and use a premise, and a great many 'new writer tips' being debunked. The reason I did not give it a 4 star is probably because I felt it was a little dry for my taste. I find 'how to' books hard to wade through unless a lot of humour lights the way for me. Having said that, I'm glad I read it and that it's on my bookshelf for...more
Feb 13, 2010 Yvensong rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: writers
Shelves: writing, non-fiction
Some very useful advice, even though there were things about the book that I found irritating. Maybe some of the things he wrote about "premise" was supposed to be humorous, but if so, the humor did not come through. I know that his experience comes primarily from the genre he mostly writes in, so that may color his views on premise, etc. Besides the areas I found a little irritating though, my writing has improved due to some of the recommendations he gave.
Eric M. Witchey
Continues the development of ideas and techniques from the fist volume. The best foundational view of the dramatic structural tools needed to develop a salable novel. On this foundation, a student of writing can hang everything else they come across in the course of their studies. Wonderful. Saved me ten years of trial and error. Thanks, Jim.
Jackie Gamber
It's always good to get a new perspective from another source on writing skills. Some of Frey's insights are quite valuable. For a beginning writer, his casual voice and humor bring a fresh way of receiving information.
Jul 24, 2008 Candice rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Writers wanting to improve their craft
Recommended to Candice by: College professor
Shelves: nonfiction
I haven't read this book in 10 years, but I really enjoyed it when I first read it for a college writing class. The tips Frey gives in combination with his humorous writing style made this a great writing aide.
Been so long since I read this I can't remember exactly what I thought of it. I think it helped me. I recently bought the first one and am reading it, so I may read this second one again afterward.
Jessica Smith
Frey's writing tips and tricks are informative and concise, but it's kind of off-putting the way he implies that his techniques are the only methods that will work.
Lisa Agosti
A very good straight motivational book for beginners writers.
I found it inspiring and funny and I would strongly recommend to everyone who is in the writing business.
Jean Oram
A pretty solid book on writing. I skipped the first one and went straight to this one. Easy to read and amusing.
A rather introductory book. If you don't know anything then this is a good book. Not really much in advanced technique.
A jaunty and easy read which gave me lots to think about and reflect on, some of it very helpful, some less so.
May 22, 2009 Jillian rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: writers
Recommended to Jillian by: chick lit writers
Shelves: books-on-writing
This book is incredibly helpful. I checked it out from the library, but I plan to purchase the first book.
Very good. Has updates that make the material adhere more to current accepted form. A quick, useful read.
Lonnieandmelanie Wibberding
Good, but not as good as the first one. Probably worth reading the first one twice before buying this one
William Stadler
No other writing book like it. Wait...Book 1 is like and it is equally as good.
Enjoyed the book, as always with Frey, chock full of useful information.
Awesome! Liked it so much I bought it! :D
I liked it better than the first.
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