Advanced Writing: Fiction and Film
by Wells Earl Draughon
iUniverse, 306 pp., $31.95
June 25, 2003
Can good writing be taught? The answer to this age-old question varies, but there is certainly no argument that the elements of good writing can be learned, appreciated, and incorporated into one’s own literary efforts with due diligence. In his book, Advanced Writing: Fiction and Film, Wells Earl Draughon takes on the daunting task of explaining the varied concepts, theories, and techniques necessary for the advanced writer who is interested in writing fiction for novels or film.
Draughon, who is the author of five published novels, explains at the outset that his book is not for the beginner. He assumes that the reader already knows the basics of grammar and composition as well as the elements of writing a story. His goal, therefore, is to help aspiring writers understand the advanced techniques and nuances of writing fiction so they not only will be able to improve upon their writing skills, but also achieve a level of sophistication and professionalism necessary for success in the literary world.
At the outset of his book, Draughon tackles the conundrum of “originality,” namely, how unique or original should a work of fiction be without diminishing its chances for appealing to a mass audience or finding a publisher? His advice: “Every good novel or film must offer the abstract elements prescribed by this book; but it can meet these prescriptive criteria in many different ways, some of them new and different.”
Throughout the book, the author describes in great detail his “prescriptions” for advanced writing, covering not only standard subjects like “depth of character,” “story appeal,” and “voice,” but also insights into topics less likely to be featured in traditional books on writing fiction. For example, there is a topic titled “Unusual Preferences with Regard to Trivial Things” in which Draughon explains how the writer can give the main character more appeal by having him do strange things, such as “buying serious books but never reading them, buying classical music CDs but never listening to them…”
In the final chapters of the book, Draughon presents a series of practical tips on the use of language, syntax, point-of-view shifts, and revision, an excellent way to end a book that is a must read for anyone who is serious about writing good fiction.