Friday, December 9, 2016

Why Did I Love (Hate) That Novel? by Brandilyn Collins

As a book reviewer, there are times when I know I love a novel and other times when I know I don't like a novel. What I didn't totally understand was why.

Collins has clarified that for me. She suggests three aspects of a novel that need to be well done for us to like that novel. First, there must be an effective story structure. She suggests a strong protagonist, a formula for plot development, and how to grab the reader's attention quickly. Second, there must be strong desires (emotions), more than one, and that they can be revealed through dialogue. Third is sentence rhythm and vividness, using sentence construction to convey the pace of the plot and using effective words, making every word count.

To those I would add a fourth, proper use of words. An example comes from this very book. “You might think,” Collins writes, “if a novel uses less words, it takes less time to write.” Ouch. This should have been “fewer” words and less time. “Fewer” is used when individual items are in mind while “less” is used elsewhere. For example, fewer calories, less fat.

Reading this short work has helped me understand why I thoroughly enjoy some novels while others leave me unexcited. It has also helped me identify issues I have with a novel when I write a review.

I recommend this book to those interested in writing fiction that engages readers and to those who review fiction.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

Brandilyn Collins was born in India and grew up in Kentucky. She and her husband now live in the Pacific Northwest. She has written nearly 30 novels and has won numerous awards. You can find out more at

Challow Press, 84 pages.

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