Monday, August 27, 2012

Book Review—The Fiction Class, a novel by Susan Breen

Susan Breen’s The Fiction Class, a Plume book published by Penguin Group, offers a great story while feeding your creative brain like a portable fiction class.
 
To be honest, I was rushing to an appointment when I stole a quick glance through a secondhand bookstore and picked up this gem.(Couldn’t resist—I had five whole spare minutes.) I made the purchase based solely on the title. I assumed the book would be another one of those how-to-improve-your-writing texts. Why not, I thought? I didn’t notice the two little words “a novel” in the upper left corner.

Needless to say, my surprise turned to delight. Reading Breen’s work felt like gleaning the gold from a well explained how-to book, while diving into the lives of interesting characters and a setting I related to on Page 1.

Through a teacher and a class of eleven wannabe writers, Breen unveils the secrets to crafting interesting and believable characters, pumping up dialogue to grab the reader, plotting, pacing, and the question of theme, as well as the importance of voice. She even shares the assignments given to the class and offers discussions on the aspects of writing, all dramatized through engaging scenes. The novel speaks to the heart through the love between man and woman; mother and daughter; and the complex relationships, heartache, and loss that evolve through those loves.

You can read The Fiction Class as a novel, become fully involved in the characters’ bitchiness and silliness, dream for them and weep for them, while at the same time, learn to sharpen your writing as though you’d just taken a ten-week course on fiction.

I’d recommend this book to anyone, writer or not. Readers with no aspirations of becoming a writer won’t be dissatisfied, and writers will be enthralled.





 

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