Klaassen argues that most current bestselling authors made their mark toward the end of the 20th century, and though their prose was cutting-edge for its time, new writers won’t be able to achieve similar heights by imitating that older style. He advocates for “third-person possessed” as the path forward in the 21st century. However, when discussing “some of the greatest stories ever told,” Klaassen lists Moby-Dick, The Great Gatsby, and Gone with the Wind. Often uncritical of earlier authors’ prose, Klaassen’s attempt to connect their style to his own technique often undercuts the book’s claim that 21st-century literature needs a new stylistic approach. Works by women and people of color receive fewer mentions. Klaassen recommends against physically describing characters, as a reader who doesn’t share their traits might be jarred out of identifying with them; authors of work that hinges on gender, race, ability, or size may prefer his advice to “give the reader credit for being intelligent.”
Over 13 short chapters, Klaassen discusses how to cultivate a compelling narrative, fleshed-out characters, consistent prose, and a fully revised book manuscript. Many tips are sourced from Wikipedia or older writing manuals. Though purportedly aimed at novelists of all levels, the book is primarily for novice authors who lack access to a professional editor. This overview of intimate prose style techniques is most useful as a crash course in grammatical and literary devices that create an intimate reading experience.
Takeaway: Klaassen’s persuasive guide to writing intimate third-person narratives provides useful tips to authors working on their first manuscripts.
Great for fans of Stephen King’s On Writing, Karen S. Weisner, John Truby.
Design and typography: A-
Marketing copy: B