Book Review: Conflict, Action & Suspense by William Noble


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Book Review:

Conflict, Action & Suspense by William Noble


Lazette Gifford

Joyously Prolific Blog

Copyright © 2013, Lazette Gifford, All Rights Reserved



From the back cover:


How to pull readers in and carry them along with dramatic, powerful storytelling.


What makes a book a page-turner? How do you grab your readers right from the start and hold them through the last sentence? How do you make your plot twist and turn, keeping the action moving without losing continuity?


. . . There are all sorts of ways to create tension in your prose -- from using adjectives and nouns that drip with imagery to making quick scene cuts and transitions to accelerating the Learn them here. Then use them, and your story will plunge your readers into a river of worry . . . and the current will carry them to The End.


William Noble's books on writing are full of good, common sense advice. Conflict, Action & Suspense, which is part of The Elements of Writing Fiction series, covers a number of important lessons for writer's to learn and to remember. Written in a clear, concise and readable style, this 185 page book is filled with excellent lessons for the new writer and thoughtful reminders for those who have been writing for a while.


The first chapter alone (The Nuts and Bolts of Drama) includes subsections like The Need for Confrontation and Escalate, Escalate reminding the writer of the need to engage the reader in conflict and action to hold their interest. The book continues through chapters on Stage Setting, Openings, Dialogue, Character Development, Pacing, Endings and more. Each of these twelve chapters are filled with helpful tidbits to improve writing skills.


This book is also very easy to read, which makes learning these lessons all the easier. While some of Noble's examples may seem out-of-date, the message behind the examples still rings true for writers and readers of today. This book is an excellent course in how to write direct, powerful stories that will captivate the audience. This is not a genre-directed book. This section on transitions is concise and is a subject that comes up so often on the Forward Motion Boards and in the chat rooms there that I would suggest this book simply for that section alone.


A subject you don't see covered very often (or at least not in this way) is the use of time in helping to build better structure and suspense in a story. Other subjects that were especially interesting were character development, point of view and misdirection in the story line.


A paragraph from the chapter on Openings is a good example of the work:


Stories rely on a developing conflict to generate interest and a sense of identification. If the opening is squishy or dull, it doesn't matter how exciting or eye-grabbing the remainder of the book is, the reader will already put it aside. We have to start at a point where something is happening, and we hve to make it interesting. 


The Elements of Fiction Writing: Conflict, Action & Suspense

Writers Digest Books

ISBN 0-89879-634-2