Review for The Emotional Craft of Fiction: How to Write the Story Beneath the Surface by Donald Maas

All of Donald Maas’s writing craft books are great, but The Emotional Craft of Fiction is one of the most important, in my estimation. As writers, we can create a great outline, and have all the plot points in the right place, but if our readers don’t FEEL something, they’re probably not going to keep turning those pages to the end.

Maas puts it so well. “What the novelist is doing…is not causing readers to feel as the novelist does, or his characters do, but rather inducing for each reader a unique emotional journey through a story.”

I love the way he turns everything upside down through his exercises. He puts you through the process of making lists, then tells you to choose the last thing you wrote—not the first one that came to your mind, the obvious choice, but the one you had to think hard about. These exercises tend to bring the element of surprise to your writing.

Yes, it’s a lot of work if you follow Maas’s suggestions, but you really do get more out of the book if you do them instead of just reading them.

I highly recommend this book to both the veteran and the novice novelist.