Fast Fiction (Review and Giveaway)

FastFictionAlways wanted to write a book? Have the story but don’t know how to start–or keep going to write a novel? Denise Jaden has your answer. Fast Fiction: A Guide to Outlining and Writing a First-Draft Novel in Thirty Days is the answer to most of the question you’ve had about how to write that novel.

Yes, I know National Novel Writing Month is barely over (or still eight months away), but you don’t need the challenge to write a book. And if you use Jaden’s book, you will be done by the time November rolls around.

I was a bit skeptical when I picked up the book. I may have even muttered about the way we do everything so fast and without real thought. But after I read the book, I changed my mind. Jaden herself says, “If someone had told me during my early writing days that I would be able to write a draft of an entire book in less than a month, I probably would have though they were crazy,”

Jaden guides you through the first draft of a 50,000 word novel. And she does it just in time for the novel-writing March Madness contest she holds each year on her own blog.  The book is divided into three parts–Before the Draft, During the Draft, and After the Draft. She doesn’t leave you hanging with a draft and no idea what to do. But I’m leaping too far ahead.

web+banner+booksIn Before the Draft, you’ll learn how to narrow down the idea for your novel, separate plot from story idea, and set a three-act structure (and she tells you how to do each step.)

You will also learn why theme is important, how much to develop your characters (and how much to let them develop themselves), and why setting is important. She helps you develop a list of scenes (in clear terms), and to write a story plan and how you will write your first draft.

All of this will happend before you start launching into During Your Draft. In that section, you will get help for each of 30 days in which you are going to draft your novel. Jaden reminds you that it is a first draft, not a finished product. One of the pieces of the book I found most useful is the weekly checkpoints she helps you set at the beginning of the 30-days.

For each of the 30 days of drafting, there is an encouraging portion of avoiding pitfalls, writing tips, and hints. Then there is a Simple Task for each day. Following her advice and using the tips will have you writing 2,000 words a day.

I expected to hear some repetition in the 30-day section, but there wasn’t any. Each day is molded by the goal for that week, and has a new idea and fresh approach to old writing problems. No clichés, no trite affirmations, no platitudes.

The last section, After the Draft, Jaden talks about revisions, using first readers to help you identify problem areas, and how to fix those areas.

I found myself wanting to write a novel for the first time in a long time, just to try out her method. I love the positive town that never sounds cheerleader-ish, and the real advice.

I received the book as a review copy and would love to keep it for myself. But I give away review copies. Leave a comment and I’ll give the book away on Thursday’s blog. If you’ve wanted to write a novel, but weren’t sure exactly how to do it, you’ll know how when you finish.

Quinn McDonald is tempted to write a novel now. She has always said she is not a fiction writer. She used to say she wasn’t a book author, either. She is the author of The Inner Hero Art Journal.

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47 responses to “Fast Fiction (Review and Giveaway)

  1. I also thank you for bringing this book to my attention and for your blog which I’ve been following diligently in this new year. Your review and some of your follow-up comments have me excitedly throwing my name in the virtual hat with everyone else. Thanks!

  2. How helpful it would be to have this kind of structured, accelerated guidance to help offset my early-stage dallying! I’ll definitely seek out this book whether or not mine is the randomized comment chosen. :-)

  3. I have to be careful to whom I say this but—-I hear voices. My characters talk to me and often just tell me what to write. Luckily, I am a good listener. I have finished one career and am beginning anew as a writer. This book looks like a helpful source.

  4. I’m looking forward to hearing the author speak at an event later this month. Would be awesome to win a copy :)

  5. Oh Quinn! I tell kids the same thing! Revise or edit . . . not both! They get bogged down with the surface features of their writing so I tell them they have to read it aloud to see if they said what they wanted to say and meet the task criteria as well ask some simple questions of their writing before they start editting although a few full stops and commas do get put in then.

  6. This would be an awesome book to win! I have one novel started. But faded after 16000 words when I hit a plot snag plus was evacuated from my home for a week because of the Waldo Canyon Fire in 2012. Maybe this book would help get me back on task. :-)

  7. ditto…ditto…ditto
    Count me in!

  8. This sounds like a very motivating book, and I’d like to ready it. Everyone’s got a story, right? Thanks, also, for your blog. I’m a new follower, and I love it!

  9. I enjoy telling stories and writing but have not published. I have been writing a novel for many years. This book sounds like a good one to have. Thank you for your review.

  10. Starting isn’t the problem for me — it’s the finishing the novel that does me in!

  11. Hi Quinn,

    For the first time this year I started NaNoWriMo, although I didn’t get far, but still… Denise Jaden’s book on writing a novel in 30 days would, I think (or should I say, hope?) give me momentum to actually start the novel that’s been in my head for a while–the one I need to get at before I can do any other story. In a way, be keeping myself to such a short time, it would hold me accountable in a way. And that can only be a good thing. Thanks for offering this book as a giveaway–though I can see from the previous comments that there are others who should probably get it.

    Jean

  12. Thank you for bringing this book into my world of possibilities, Quinn. It sounds like an awesome book to get my novel out of my head and onto paper. I’ve had an idea for a novel for over a year now that I just don’t know how to start on. I love the protagonist, I love the plot, I’m just not sure how to get it started. This book sounds like just what I need to finally get the story our of my head and into a book form.

    It may sound weird, but I write poetry, both rhyming and non-rhyming and I’ve written short-shorts, but a novel is a whole new thing, and that’s what this idea screams for. To be a novel. And that is something I’ve never written.

  13. snicklefritzin43

    Your review brings this book into my screen of possibilities so why not read it and see what comes as a result. Great opportunity to have my name in the drawing; still putting the book on the want list.

  14. Ooh! Neat! I may go look this up, regardless. Good to try new things.

  15. oh WOW. just what I need!

  16. My husband who has always had dreams of writing, and is at a career crossroads due to illness would greatly appreciate this book to get him moving in that direction!

  17. I would love to read that book. Not really for myself (but who knows in the future), but for my nephew who is 15 years old. Lately we heard that he is really busy writing a book himself. It would be really useful for him, I guess.

  18. It is amazing that there is a book that gives this kind of direction, I know most of us have said “i could write a book” at one point in our lives or another. And i have stories that would be great for a book, but have no idea how to start. This is very encouraging. Would love to read the book.

  19. I’ve always been fascinated by the extent to which “writing is writing” even when when there are big differences. I just spent about a month on a 500+ page “book”, but it’s not a novel.

    It’s not unusual to turn out hundreds of technical pages per month, and it takes me about 2 or 3 semesters to teach a writer (an already competent writer with some technical knowledge) how to get to that point. But some fiction writers can do that too — there are prolific fiction authors like Stephen King, Isaac Asimov, not to mention those romance novelists who can write lots of those books.

    The “common sense” about this is that writing technical material is easier than writing fiction. But maybe it’s just the amount of support available. Maybe the real difference is that you can get a regular job as a technical author and it comes with benefits, an office, colleagues you can talk to, and usually free coffee :-). When you get stuck you can walk 20 feet and say to someone “hey, got a sec? I’m not sure about…” When you need some reviewers they’re easy to find and easy to motivate, because part of their job is reviewing. Most fiction writers are on their own.

    • Sometimes writing it writing in a basic way. But change the audience and the tone and voice change. Word choice, sentence length, word order, sequencing, all make writing shift. And I know, as a non-fiction writer, that fiction is harder than non-fiction to write.

      • I think I disagree. Not entirely sure yet.

        I have tons of experience as both a technical writer and a technical writer (when the potential worldwide audience is probably fewer than 500 people, it’s definitely the latter; I’m tellin’ ya, I’ve worked on some barely comprehensible stuff!) and it’s reasonably easy for me. I mean, it’s work, and it takes a lot of time, but I understand it pretty well and know how to solve the problems I encounter.

        Writing fiction is harder _for me_, but I’ve only really started to try it in the past couple of months. I don’t have any experience, and not only do I not know how to solve the problems, I don’t even know what the problems are. But so far, it seems like very much the same process. In the one case I have to figure out how to create a simulation of an overload on the Gn interface when there’s a misassigned serving gateway node, and then explain how to recognize that, fix it, and change the right 8 lines in a 50,000 line configuration file that will be different in all cases. In the other I have to figure out why the Colonel burst in, uniform blackened and smoldering, and shouted “It’s the socks! It’s always been the socks!” before collapsing in a heap.

        I don’t know any fiction writers, but it would be pretty interesting to talk about the differences and similarities. My bet (at the moment) is that one kind of writing is not inherently more difficult than another.

        (By the way, about that networking problem? It’s the socks.)

  20. I love to write, I just am stalled and unable to get myself started again. I have a number of plotting books, but I am always looking for the one that speaks my language. So far, I haven’t found it. Would love to try Fast Fiction to see if it’s the fit I need. Love your blog, Quinn.

  21. Ok, I have thought of writing a book on and off for a looooooong time. But, I just never got very far and I figured it was too late anyway……….but……maybe…….it isn’t?

    • Never too late Marsha, not until you’re on your deathbed.
      I really love the process of writing, but I don’t really have any plot ideas for a novel, so that leaves me out for now. No point in talking just for the sake of saying something, anything.

      • That’s a good point, Pia. You have to have an idea first. I have a great plot development, but no reason for a protagonist to do it. Or learn from it.

        • Why not try just starting to write? Ideas don’t always come first, and don’t always arrive “announced”. I suspect everybody already has ideas they’re not aware of and just need to find a way to let them emerge.

          • Sure, you can start writing and write. But fiction is tricky, and needs consistency and a lot of other planning and structure. While not everyone needs this book, it’s a solid method for doing a 50,000 word novel in a month.

          • I’m not saying you don’t need that stuff; only that you don’t have to wait to “have an idea” to get started.

          • I’ll say this: ANYONE can write a book. Anyone an self-publish if they have the know-how, some money, and persistence. But not everyone can write a compelling, interesting novel that also has a decent audience of readers. That understood, you don’t need to “have an idea” to get started.

          • I can attest to this: anyone can write *and publish* a book. I once published one somewhat accidentally while investigating self-publishing software.

          • “Write down whatever comes into your mind, even if it’s just ‘I don’t know what to write’. The process of writing will eventually get your creative juices flowing.”
            - Denise Jaden, Fast Fiction (Chapter 1, The Story Idea)

            Yes, that.

          • Julia Cameron says much the same thing, as done Steven King in his book, “On Writing.”

        • Ideas buzz around my head like flies just the way the skitter around your feet . . . they skid on the tiles no doubt!

          It’s getting the shape of the whole thing to morph into being, although I know ideas have a way of taking on a life of their own once released. I was the same writing assignments when I did my MEd a few years back . . . if I could write the introduction or an abstract I was set!

          • I teach a 6-step writing method for business writing that works for most writing methods, and I think that the biggest mistakes most writers make is trying to write and edit at the same time. It doesn’t work.

    • What Pia said–it’s never too late. Try writing a story first. Most people don’t write because they don’t know how. Writing is NOT something you are born knowing how to do. It’s a learning process.

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