When you’ve been writing for long enough, or once you’ve read enough how-to books for writers, you start to notice just how similar all the “different” advice you’re getting sounds. In Damn Fine Story: Mastering the Tools of a Powerful Narrative, veteran writer Chuck Wendig has crafted an irreverent guide to the one thing every writer should be striving for: how to tell good stories.
Damn Fine Story comes with a warning label, affixed by Wendig himself: “This is a book that contains adult language.” Fans of the Wanderers author won’t be surprised by this, as Wendig’s own website contains plenty of F-bombs and other four-letter words. But for anyone going into this with no idea who in the world this Chuck Wendig is, you should know that the language in Damn Fine Story gets a lot worse than what’s in its title.
That’s not to say that the language gets in the way of a good time here, or that Wendig should have pared it back at all. All of the aforementioned four-letter words, and their friends, are carefully placed here. For those who don’t curse as a general rule, Wendig’s writing guide might serve well in a second role: teaching the reader how to make their characters curse effectively.
But enough about the cursing. Let’s talk about what writers can learn from Damn Fine Story. Wendig’s book draws on examples from popular films, such as Die Hard and The Empire Strikes Back, to illustrate how great narrative elements — dialogue, pacing, etc. — may be implemented. Although it will not satisfy anyone looking for a magic pill to create quality fiction, Damn Fine Story does a damn fine job of demystifying the building blocks of narrative for writers who struggle to identify them in others’ work. If you’re an aspiring fiction author who doesn’t already have this one on their shelves, go out and get yourself a copy. You’re going to love it.
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
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