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

4.01  ·  Rating details ·  541 Ratings  ·  52 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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Derek
Years ago, when I was still flirting with the idea of writing, I picked of James Frey's How To Write A Damn Good Novel. For all the book was worth, it was lost on me, because, well, I was only flirting with the idea (which reminds me, I'm due for a reread of that). This time around, reading the sequel to that, and no longer flirting around with the idea of writing, I can't measure (in words) the extent to which I've taken to heart all the advice in this book. The most important thing to take to ...more
Glenn Myers
Jun 11, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Sport, music, acting, writing: If you want to be good enough that thousands of people pay to watch, you can't just do it on your native brilliance.

James N Frey has coached thousands of writers, seen the mistakes we all make, and has plenty of ideas to nudge us in the right directions, Common sense, matter-of-fact, light, at times personal I found this very helpful. This second volume is in places a bit more speculative than the first but both titles are gems. Any of us writers willing to eat hu
...more
عبد الله
May 19, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorite
It’s just amazing book. The words clear and clean like Hemingway use to do. i learned a lot of things about the characters and the staff must including in the fiction novel. I strode within pages and climb to the summit to discover the craft of making o damn good novel. Premise characters .and all chapter were useful for writers.
Debra Daniels-zeller

This is book is a follow-up to How to Write a Damn Good Novel, but even if you didn’t read Frey’s first book, this book delivers as promised and is also a book you could return to time after time for inspiration. Filled with great tips, written in a unique way and with lots of examples, Frey covers gaining sympathy and empathy from readers by using simple details, getting readers to identify with characters, and compelling readers to tune in to what will happen to your characters. The premise of
...more
Anita
Aug 04, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This would have been a great text to enhance anyone's writing but the author is so negative and doesn't believe in happy endings. I believe in happy endings, and use my reading and writing as a form of escapism.
Chris Bauer
Aug 19, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very useful addendum volume to some of Frey's other works.

Pragmatic, perhaps a bit dated, but still very relevant. In plain ole' English the author answered a number of more esoteric questions I've always had about certain elements of writing.

Quick and informative read.
Jason McCoy
Oct 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A damn good sequel to a damn good book. All puns aside these two books are very helpful and I can highly recommend them to anyone looking for pointers about their own writing.
Matthew McAndrew
Though it isn't one of my favorite writer's references, I did enjoy the author's wit and way of explaining elements of fiction writing to improve your skills.
Julia Pogodina
May 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It's so-so inspiring, so good. Thanks for that,
Marjet
Dec 27, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
D.w.
Aug 15, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed
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
Nicola
Jun 27, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, writing
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
Heydon Hensley
Oct 14, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
There are a few things How to Write a Damn Good Novel II, Advanced Techniques is not: it is not a magic wand, it is not a waste of time, it is not light reading, and it is not a book for the beginning writer. This book assumes that you have a reasonable grasp on how to formulate a plot, write characters, and handle a premise (without which your plot is just another absurdist comedy regardless of your pacing or gripping action sequences. Premise is what your book aims to prove in around 80,000 wo ...more
Jenny
Mar 12, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Hild
Jul 11, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Er staan zeker behulpzame lessen in die een onzekere schrijver op gang kunnen helpen en waar je nog eens op terug kunt vallen. Helaas is het boek zelf niet erg inspirerend geschreven, wat niet bemoedigend werkt. Hoofdstukken beginnen in de trant van: “Dit ga ik je leren”, dan komt de les met een paar voorbeelden en aan het eind volgt nog eens een droge opsomming in bijna exact dezelfde bewoording.

Ook de voorbeelden die door Frey zelf zijn geschreven werken vaak niet voor mij. Op pagina 97/98 vo
...more
James
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
Mari
Sep 15, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
As a writer, I have always loved to tell stories. I know that I can be quite entertaining but since I have a biology background and not an English one....I always felt as if there was something missing in my story telling. I couldn't tell what, but I knew I was falling short.

The first book was recommended to me by a Beta reader who had a better grasp of the business than I do and let me say that this book has so much to learn from. It has helped me realize that I don't suck. I realized that my
...more
Arthur Mills
Sep 02, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Izzy
Jul 22, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
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
Lisa Ahn
Jun 02, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: writing-craft
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
Gary Khan
Jul 16, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a spectacularly written book, very different to conventional How-To's because of its unique brand of humor and prose. It covers all the big literary items, and inspires with its relevant stories from real-life experience. Frey connects with his audience in a way most authors only dream of. This is a book that should be read by every and any one seeking to be someone in the literary world.
Samuel Bigglesworth
A great introduction to novel writing, and one which convinced me to re-write my novella a few more times.

If you're looking to write a dramatic story, then this is a Damn Good place to start.

It's short and snappy and very readable.

This also convinced me to give reading Stephen King a try. He never appealed to me, as I used to have an aversion to dark content, but after reading 6 of his books I can confirm I am now a true fan!
Eben Mishkin
Jan 10, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: creative-writing
This book is leaps and bounds beyond the book it is a sequel to. While How to Write a Damn Good Novel is good, How to Write a Damn Good Novel II goes beyond where most writing books get to. It's assumption that you've already gotten through the basics lets it hit more sophisticated topics that most books never reach. Not good for a first book on creative writing but after you've read a few it's definitely one you should pick up.
Yvensong
Jan 15, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  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
Oct 20, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: writing
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.
Jackson Coppley
Jan 08, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great Material

Frey's book makes excellent points for anyone who writes fiction or would like to write it. I published a book of short stories in early 2014 and am currently writing my first novel. I will be using this book as my flight check list before publishing.
Candice
Jul 24, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  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.
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.
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