By Arlene F. Marks Legacy Books Press, $19.95, 247 pages
Arlene Marks has written a practical, informative writing guidebook called From First Word to Last. Her book includes chapters on the first word, the elements of fiction, characterization, story plotting, setting, constructing the story and writing lean and mean. Interspersed throughout the chapters is “the 10-minute stretch,” writing exercises to bring the content of the book to life. She also offers many “helpful hints” along the way. Marks begins with the basics, such as the three elements of a story (plot, character and setting), and then discusses conflict and motivation. She reviews different types of conflict, such as person vs. person, person vs. environment, person vs. self and person vs. supernatural. She also offers four tips for building suspense. She breaks down the parts of a story and a scene.
“Develop it. Hone it. Practice it.”
Your copy of From First Word to Last will end up dog-eared, highlighted, quoted and oft referred to. This is an indispensable handbook for writing fiction. There is so much information you will need to read and re-read this treasure of a tool. If you are truly interested in improving your storytelling and your writing, this book is a must-have.
Reviewed by Seniye Groff