James N. Frey Books to Improve Your Writing

Dear Readers,

Put these four books at the top of your reading list. They will empower you towards your goal of publication. They are a writer’s private writing course.

I highly recommend them.

…Joan Y. Edwards

Below are my reviews of these four books.

How to Write a Damn Good Novel (1987) by James N. Frey

James N. Frey explains in an easy to read and comprehend voice. It’s easy to learn the writing process with his book. He asks, “What are you trying to prove about human nature?” He explains Egri’s theory that a premise is character, conflict, and conclusion. He explains how to choose the right viewpoint for telling your story. He tells when to use flashbacks and when to leave them out. He gives several ways to gain benefits from a critique group. He shows you with examples of premise and dialogue using popular stories and movies. He also shows you by making up a character or story right before your eyes.

How to Write a Damn Good Novel, II (1994) by James N. Frey

In this one, Frey says about criticism: “Your ego is filleted right before your eyes.” He says that writing groups give you feedback to make your manuscript more powerful and effective. If you hang in there, you will learn to cope. With your premise, you are saying to your readers, given these characters and this situation, human nature is such that it will end up this way. The ruling passion of a character determines what the character will do when faced with the dilemmas he or she must overcome in the course of the story. What is it he wants more than anything else in the world. In a novel, he tells us that something bad is going to happen, usually at an appointed time and the characters must stop it from happening and that ain’t easy. He says to put sympathetic characters into menace, and light the fuse. Makes your readers worry and wonder about them. He tells you seven deadly mistakes writers make. He advises writers to write what they have a passion for, what they really care about deeply He has examples of stepsheets containing the action and consequences from the beginning to the end of a story:

The Opening Situation
The Inciting Incident
First Complication
Second complication
Third Complication
Fourth Complication
Fifth Complication (Add as many complications as you need for your novel)
The Climax (The Climactic Confrontation)
The Resolution

When you do similar exercises with your own manuscript, Frey’s advice will lead you to a better, stronger story…One that will lead you closer to publication.

How to Write a Damn Good Mystery (2004) by James N. Frey

Frey’s explanation of detective stories, how to use hero myths to help make your story complete.

You can use it to help you critique your own mystery novel and put it on course to success using his  expertise and knowledge.

Frey explains how to use a five-act design for a good mystery.

1. Accepts mission
2. Tested and changed, dies and is reborn
3. Tested again and finally success
4. Traps the Murderer
5. Resolution, tells how events of story impact major characters

He explains how to choose the right viewpoint for telling your story. He shows you how to use plotting in stepsheets. He give you hints on how to find a good agent or editor for your manuscript.

The Key: How to Write a Damn Good Fiction Using the Power of Myth (2000)

by James N. Frey

Frey takes you step-by-step showing you how to write a novel using the monomyth steps of the hero. He actually writes a novel within this book. Starts with the premise, theme, pitch sentence, theme sentence, biography of characters, stepsheets showing the actions and consequences, and resolution. It’s very beneficial for writers because he tells you what’s going through his head, you see the words on the page, you can write your own as he is showing you how with his examples. He compares writers to the heroes who actually go through the same steps as a hero on his journey.

A Hero’s Journey

Call to Adventure
Supernatural Aid
Threshold Guardian-tells them not to go, it’s dangerous
Challenges and Temptations
Abyss: Death and Rebirth
Gift, Prize for the Return

Here is a Wikipedia article explaining the Monomyth – The Hero’s Journey: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monomyth. Here is a chart from Wikipedia showing the hero’s journey: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Heroesjourney.svg

Thanks for reading my blog. I hope that you’ll read one or all of these books for yourself. I want you to see how clearly and simply James N. Frey explains what to put in your novels and the order in which to write it.  This will help you get to the top of your favorite publisher’s list.  I appreciate his allowing me to review his books on my blog.

To those of you who are reading this. Thank you. I am honored. Good luck in publishing your work.

Never Give Up!
Joan Y. Edwards

Copyright © 2011 Joan Y. Edwards

7 thoughts on “James N. Frey Books to Improve Your Writing”

  1. As always, useful, inspiring and encouraging, Joan. Thanks for keeping the flame lit under all of us writers. Keep up the good work- :l

    1. Dear Lara, Thanks for stopping by. It’s good to see you here. You’re welcome. It’s my pleasure to encourage you. It is in encouraging you that I learn to keep going myself. I hope you’re continuing to enjoy yourself and your family. These experiences enhance your writing. Do something good for yourself today!

      Have a Flip Flap Floodle Day!

      Joan Y. Edwards Never Give Up

  2. Joan,
    I plan to add James N. Frey’s books to my writer’s reference list. It’s terrific when you find a book that makes the writing process clear and simplified. And you uncovered a whole series like that. It was impressive to see four critiques in one blog post. Way to go!

    Linda A.

    1. Dear Linda, I’m glad that my reviews of James N. Frey’s books inspired you to add his books to your reference list. Thanks for stopping by. Do something good for yourself today.

      Have a Flip Flap Floodle Day!

      Joan Y. Edwards Never Give Up

  3. Thanks so much for this valuable info. I will be buying all of the books. I have never written a novel before, and was recently thinking it would be something I might want to do. Then I saw your posting. I guess this is a sign to get on it!

    1. Dear Susan,
      I am excited that you believe my information is valuable. Your public library might have them so you can take a peak. I’m glad you are beginning a new venture to write a novel. Good luck to you! Thanks for reading my blog. I hope you’ll subscribe and come back to visit soon.
      Joan Y. Edwards

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