Write Damn Fine Stories
I recently finished Damn Fine Story by Chuck Wendig, and it’s, well, a damn fine writing craft book. If you haven’t read anything by Chuck, his style takes getting used to. For me, his books are an acquired taste. I suspect, some people won't care for his writing. Having said that, I strongly suggest that the aspiring authors out there give this book a try. If you can laugh at, or, in the very least, tolerate his often crass humor, you’ll find some damn fine advice in this slim volume.
I’ve read several of Chuck’s novels. His style works spectacularly for some stories (Blackbirds is excellent & highly recommended) and not quite as well for others. Overall, I think his approach works well for Damn Fine Story. A word of warning to the would-be reader, I personally did not find the first chapter of much use. If you have a similar experience, don’t let this deter you. For me, the shiniest, most valuable pearls of wisdom started flowing in chapter two and didn’t stop until the very end. Chuck has a way of approaching storytelling that turned me on my head. It’s not that he advocates anything that different than many other story gurus, but he has a way of expressing his views on how to write a damn good story that solidified my own thinking on how I approach things. I found this book of monumental utility, especially during the Arduous Edit.
Now, for examples. I’ll take my examples from Chapter 2 – Soylent Story: It’s Made Out Of People. This is seriously one of the best chapters I’ve read out of any writing craft book. This chapter by itself is worth the book’s $17.99 list price. Two sections in this chapter really made me think: the characters are their problems, and the story is the solution. These sections give some great advice on how to have the characters drive the plot. He makes a convincing argument that it’s the small stories, as in the personal stories of the characters, that make a story memorable not the overarching whiz-bang plot. Why? The characters give the story heart. Without great characters, Star Wars is just an exploding Death Star.
Do yourself a favor, read this book.