Stuart Aken's Reviews > Creating Stories

Creating Stories by Hank Quense
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This writing manual is about making stories; the creative process and the practical work involved in getting the story from mind to page.
As a fairly ancient and experienced writer, I’ve come across quite a few books about writing, so it’s difficult for an author to present something new for me. In this volume, Hank Quense uses his own experience to develop ideas on a way of approaching the issue of actually creating a story that readers will want to read. He presents his subject matter in accessible and easily understood terms. Each section of the book deals with one or more of the hurdles and challenges that come with writing a story. He uses straightforward language to describe often technically challenging topics and gives advice in an easy to follow form.
The book is divided into four parts; Setting and Characters, Plotting, Story-telling, and More Stuff. Each part is subdivided into chapters, presenting the matter in easily consumed bites. It’s intended to help authors writing in all styles and for all genres, as he approaches the subject from the storytelling point of view, which, of course, relates to all types of writing.
I write as a pantster, so plotting is of secondary importance to me; it comes late in the process. But many writers, and especially those starting out, need to plot in order to get the story in some sort of order. This book sets out that process in a simple form that covers all aspects and explains the importance of planning.
Character drives my work, and the author here explains why character is important, indeed essential, to a good story. He provides ways and means to develop characters, keep track of them, use them to good effect and make them matter to the reader. A story where no character is of interest to the reader is, after all, not going to work on any level.
Setting is a vital element, but so often oversold by writers, both new and experienced. It takes a lot of effort to develop a world from imagination and there’s a great temptation to provide the reader with every detail of that construction. But, in the way that a house owner doesn’t need the plans of his house to enjoy living there, the author here explains that the reader doesn’t need to know every last detail of the invented world to enjoy the story. In fact, such detail can bring the story to a halt and lose the reader.
Storytelling is at the heart of this book and Hank guides the reader through the process using charts, examples and simple narrative to illustrate what makes a good story. He also explains what prevents a good story from being told in a form that readers will find engaging.
The final section deals with the thorny subject of humour in stories and how to create it. He also looks at subjects like copyright, the fear of manuscript theft and other practical issues that cause anxiety or concern for new writers. It’s a complete manual for the subject.
As an experienced writer, I found new ways of thinking about the process of writing a book, ideas that will inform and help my future writing. For the new writer, there is much to absorb here, but its friendly style and ease of delivery makes the learning process that much more enjoyable. A useful addition to the canon of books on writing.
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Reading Progress

March 8, 2017 – Shelved
March 8, 2017 – Shelved as: to-read
March 30, 2017 – Started Reading
April 3, 2017 – Finished Reading
May 28, 2018 – Shelved as: nonfiction

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