Friday, October 05, 2018

Review: "The Fantasy Fiction Formula" by Deborah Chester

I picked up Deborah Chester’s “The Fantasy Fiction Formula” ($19.95, Manchester University Press) about a year ago for the simple reason that it received such high praise from Jim Butcher, an author I admire greatly. He basically gave Chester credit for giving him the secret to success, which intrigued me.

I used to read “how to write” books with some regularity, but it’s been a long time since I cracked one. After a while much of the advice becomes repetitive and a bit boring. It seems there aren’t that many different ways to do it.

I started “The Fantasy Fiction Formula” about a year ago, and I wandered away from it. Mainly because in the early going there weren’t that many new ideas. It was all about planning your characters and knowing their motivations, desires and goals – things that have been covered over and over.

I recently picked it up again, this time determined to push through looking for some magical formula to help me get past my own personal block: I seem to be a natural novella writer. Every time I sit down to write a book, the finished product falls in the 35-45,000 word range. I’ve done it about five times now with the same result. In revisions, I end up trying to bulk it up to novel length, and I always feel that I’m just bloating it and the shorter version was much stronger. I was hoping for some sage advice to get me to that 60,000-plus word level.