Like the title says, Kress concentrates on beginnings, middles, and ends, on how to flow from one to the next, and of course she dissects each. She doLike the title says, Kress concentrates on beginnings, middles, and ends, on how to flow from one to the next, and of course she dissects each. She doesn't go into great detail about scene, character, dialogue, etc, as much as other writing books I've read, but she does touch on most aspects.
This writing book serves as a great roadmap. It's very practical and accessible. And btw, it applies to genre and mainstream literary, and both the short-story and the novel.
The gist of this reference book is to instill in the writer the need to effectively set up the implicit promise you make to your reader in the first two scenes of your story, how it should be developed in the middle, and fulfilled in the end.
That's the short of it, but this small book is drenched with useful and interesting information for writers of short fiction and especially the novel, in my opinion. It has resonated with this reader/writer, big time. I highly recommend it but especially for beginner novelists.
Here's the book's table of contents (with many important sub sections not shown here):
Introduction: The Story In Your Head
PART I: Beginnings
1. The Very Beginning: Your Opening Scene 2. The Later Beginning: Your Second Scene 3. Help for Beginnings: Early Revision
PART II: Middles
4. The Middle: Staying on Track 5. Under Development: Your Characters at Midstory 6. Help for Middles: Getting Unstuck
PART III: Endings
7. Satisfying Endings: Delivering on the Promise 8. The Very End: Last Scene, Last Paragraph, Last Sentence 9. Help for Endings: The Last Hurrah ...more
I'm still wrestling with my thoughts on this novel and I'll use this post to help pin them to the mat, or should I say, the canvas...
The UnderpainterI'm still wrestling with my thoughts on this novel and I'll use this post to help pin them to the mat, or should I say, the canvas...
The Underpainter was a tough read, at times, yet rewarding. Tough because the story is told using summary narrative throughout, from the POV of the protagonist, an aging, self-centered and rather selfish man recounting his life. So there aren't many (if any) full scenes in this story but rather several half-scenes to show what he's telling us.
Yet the prose is lyrical and smooth and lovely, making the abundant details of setting and of the protag's incessant introspections and observations, pleasant (for the most part) to read.
There is not much here in terms of plot or story arc, but the vivid characters are interesting and have us caring for how they will fare. And this, in my opinion, shows great skill by the author, given the confining style of storytelling she used. (That is, using mostly summary narrative with a first person POV.)
The novel dragged slowly near its middle, but by the end, I felt I'd participated in the life of this unhappy man, and got to know his entourage. And it's a sad life. It portrays the chicken-shit side of all of us. The part that encourages us to remain staid observers rather than diving in, heart first.
The Underpainter is a story that will haunt this reader for a long while. ...more