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The Irresistible Novel: How to Craft an Extraordinary Story That Engages Readers from Start to Finish

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Discover Your Voice and Enthrall Readers! The craft of writing is filled with various debates: Should I include a prologue? Should I delete all adverbs from my manuscript? Just how much backstory--if any--can I include in my story? These questions--and their often-contradictory answers--can cause confusion, frustration, and even paralysis in the writer. The Irresistible Nove Discover Your Voice and Enthrall Readers! The craft of writing is filled with various debates: Should I include a prologue? Should I delete all adverbs from my manuscript? Just how much backstory--if any--can I include in my story? These questions--and their often-contradictory answers--can cause confusion, frustration, and even paralysis in the writer. The Irresistible Novel frees you from the limits of so-called -rules- and instead provides you with a singular goal: You must engage your readers from beginning to end. Filled with down-to-earth discussions on the various debates of writing, as well as innovative research on neuroscience and reader response, this book shows you how to: Navigate the various debates on writing fiction--showing versus telling, purple prose, outlining, writing description, and more--to decide what kind of novelist you want to be. Hack your reader's brain to hook her interest and trigger emotional engagement from the very first page. Incorporate enduring elements of storytelling from masters like Joseph Campbell, Aristotle, and Carl Jung. Readers want to be swept away by your stories. When you eschew the rules and focus on your readers' desires, you're free to write truly irresistible fiction.


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Discover Your Voice and Enthrall Readers! The craft of writing is filled with various debates: Should I include a prologue? Should I delete all adverbs from my manuscript? Just how much backstory--if any--can I include in my story? These questions--and their often-contradictory answers--can cause confusion, frustration, and even paralysis in the writer. The Irresistible Nove Discover Your Voice and Enthrall Readers! The craft of writing is filled with various debates: Should I include a prologue? Should I delete all adverbs from my manuscript? Just how much backstory--if any--can I include in my story? These questions--and their often-contradictory answers--can cause confusion, frustration, and even paralysis in the writer. The Irresistible Novel frees you from the limits of so-called -rules- and instead provides you with a singular goal: You must engage your readers from beginning to end. Filled with down-to-earth discussions on the various debates of writing, as well as innovative research on neuroscience and reader response, this book shows you how to: Navigate the various debates on writing fiction--showing versus telling, purple prose, outlining, writing description, and more--to decide what kind of novelist you want to be. Hack your reader's brain to hook her interest and trigger emotional engagement from the very first page. Incorporate enduring elements of storytelling from masters like Joseph Campbell, Aristotle, and Carl Jung. Readers want to be swept away by your stories. When you eschew the rules and focus on your readers' desires, you're free to write truly irresistible fiction.

30 review for The Irresistible Novel: How to Craft an Extraordinary Story That Engages Readers from Start to Finish

  1. 4 out of 5

    Tricia Mingerink

    Wow! I absolutely loved this book. (And, it's more riveting than some fiction I've read). I'd recommend this to writers who have written a few books. It's most helpful if you have some practice with following/not following writing "rules." If I'd read this book a few years ago, I'd have no idea where I stood on a few of the "rules" he presents. But now, I could go through each one with him and figure out which way I fell based on the descriptions. I really enjoyed it and this book along with ano Wow! I absolutely loved this book. (And, it's more riveting than some fiction I've read). I'd recommend this to writers who have written a few books. It's most helpful if you have some practice with following/not following writing "rules." If I'd read this book a few years ago, I'd have no idea where I stood on a few of the "rules" he presents. But now, I could go through each one with him and figure out which way I fell based on the descriptions. I really enjoyed it and this book along with another Jeff Gerke book "Plot vs Character" will go on my all time favorite writing craft book list.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Bethany Jennings

    I put five stars on Amazon, but four stars here on Goodreads because the star system is slightly different; I "really liked it," but I'm not sure I can go all the way to, "It was amazing," personally. Overall, this is a fantastic resource, particularly for the writer who is stuck in the paralyzing stage of trying to obey all the "rules." There are three portions to the book, which are sort of unique from each other: PART ONE goes through various writing rules, chapter by chapter, and gives the "fo I put five stars on Amazon, but four stars here on Goodreads because the star system is slightly different; I "really liked it," but I'm not sure I can go all the way to, "It was amazing," personally. Overall, this is a fantastic resource, particularly for the writer who is stuck in the paralyzing stage of trying to obey all the "rules." There are three portions to the book, which are sort of unique from each other: PART ONE goes through various writing rules, chapter by chapter, and gives the "for" and "against" for each one, and a small manifesto for you to fill out at the end, proclaiming your stance (opinions which you are given permission to change however and whenever you want!). The first several chapters were very refreshing and satisfying, and it was wonderful to stake out where I stood on the "rules" and forget about the alternate view. As this portion went on, though, I found myself skimming a bit...a lot of the rules discussed were little things I didn't care about or had settled in my mind a long time ago. I felt like this section could have been covered in just a few chapters and then a big "you get the idea," but there are probably some writers who can really benefit from those chapters too. PART TWO is short, and talks about brain chemistry and why certain kinds of stories are likely to delight readers and create a connection with them. Again, I felt like it could have been summed up more quickly, but it wasn't too technical, which made it approachable and easy to understand. PART THREE is in my opinion the real meat of the book - having gone through the rules and encouraged you to toss the "rulebook," Gerke uses Part 3 to explore some very classic formulas, archetypes, and such that are found in classic, popular, and beloved fiction. Readers connect with these things, so if your book contains them it may be compelling as well. These are not rules, but rather helpful aides to making your reader fall in love with your book, if you use them. Personally I was quite excited to discover that my own work in progress contained most, if not all, of the monomyth (hero's journey) elements! That section was a thrill to read...very encouraging. In summary, there is a LOT of good information here - and it is not only actionable but exciting to learn. I felt it could be shorter in places, and once in awhile I was amused to see Gerke suggesting what appear to be rules, himself!...but I imagine he'd probably be the first to point out that they're only guidelines and free to be broken. ;) As he teaches in the book, the first and most important thing is to hook your reader from beginning to end. And "The Irresistible Novel" is a great resource to help you do that!

  3. 5 out of 5

    Caprice Hokstad

    How to Craft an Irresistible Novel is really only 40% of the book, while 60% is really about Debunking All Those Dumb Crit Group Writing Rules and assuring us we can safely ignore them. I wish I had read Part 1 sixteen years ago. It really would have helped back then, when I got all that conflicting information that supposedly "proved" why I couldn't get published. Most of this information I had to learn the hard way and over a period of many grueling years. It would have been nice to have avoid How to Craft an Irresistible Novel is really only 40% of the book, while 60% is really about Debunking All Those Dumb Crit Group Writing Rules and assuring us we can safely ignore them. I wish I had read Part 1 sixteen years ago. It really would have helped back then, when I got all that conflicting information that supposedly "proved" why I couldn't get published. Most of this information I had to learn the hard way and over a period of many grueling years. It would have been nice to have avoided that. Had that been all this book had to offer, I would have felt cheated because it was kind of "DUH" material for me at this stage. Luckily there's a part two and the last 40% of the book is more of the kind of meat I was looking for from this title. I wish Part 2 could have taken up all the pages that was given to the less-useful-for-me Part 1 and more time and energy and space devoted to Part 2 because that is what I needed and wanted. However, that said, Part 2 was indeed meaty and valuable, if not quite as long as I'd have liked.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Gisela

    All in all, one of the better books on writing that I've read to date. And one with a twist (keep on reading). Let's start with the title. Wow! If you were a budding writer, how could resist picking up (and reading) a book with a promising title like that? So, yes, of course, I fell for the bait, and so I guess the author already demonstrated his success in writing, if not an irresistible novel in this case, but an irresistible title at the very least. As I suspected though, the title is an exampl All in all, one of the better books on writing that I've read to date. And one with a twist (keep on reading). Let's start with the title. Wow! If you were a budding writer, how could resist picking up (and reading) a book with a promising title like that? So, yes, of course, I fell for the bait, and so I guess the author already demonstrated his success in writing, if not an irresistible novel in this case, but an irresistible title at the very least. As I suspected though, the title is an example of over-promising or oversell. Although it is quite a comprehensive and well-written and well-structured guide for beginners (as well as those who have been writing for a while), it is misleading to suggest that by following a series of "how to" steps, you too can write a book that everyone will want to read. Part One Indeed, Part One of the book is all about debunking the very notion that to write an irresistible book you only need to follow a given set of rules. But this is what I found so refreshing and honest about Jeff Gerke's book - a down-to-earth coverage of a number writing rules that we have either read in some other book or heard about in a writing class or workshop. So for example, that rule about not using "ly" adverbs (a rule that meta-writer Stephen King is quite doctrinaire about), is one of many that Gerke methodically takes apart by: (1) explaining the rule (2) talking about those who disagree with this rule and why (3) talking about those who agree with this rule and why (4) explaining his own stand is on this rule, and (5) telling us where a "gatekeeper" (that is, a potential publisher) might stand on this rule and how or why you might want to take this into account when deciding where *you* stand on this rule. Gerke does this for more than 20 writing rules (see below below below), including the full set of Elmore Leonard's Ten Rules for Writing. One thing that strikes you when reading Gerke's take on writing rules, especially in the early pages of the book, is the sense that he has had some very unhappy experiences in a critique group, as he has some very scathing things to say about rule "Nazis" that seem to lurk in this kind of environment. While I can't say I've had similarly bruising experiences as Gerke (or people he knows), I do wholeheartedly agree with the advice he gives on dealing with people who insist they know better than you about some aspect of your writing. Just smile and thank them for their feedback and then continue to do what you believe is right for your own book. The other common thread in the book is the most excellent (and yet unbelievably common-sensical) advice about paying attention to the kind of books you like reading, and using them as a model - not in the sense of copying them but in the very obvious sense of, if you really love science fiction, then pay attention to what and how your favourite science fiction authors write. And yes, initially your work might be a bit imitative, but eventually, if you keep plugging away, then you will find your own voice and path. Part Two Another message that we repeatedly encounter in Gerke's book is the need to "engage our reader". Part Two of Gerke's book is where he brings out some very interesting guns and where his book differentiates itself radically from any other book on writing that I've read to date, for here we have a 35-page walk through the neuroscience and neuro-chemistry woods. Wow! I really loved this section which goes some way to explaining why more women read fiction than men! It's all in the hormones! Who'd have thought? :-) I'm not sure I entirely understood (or bought) how all the research and analysis into neuro-science can be successfully applied by us to write our much-desired best-seller but it sounded worth re-reading and trying. But here I must issue a tutt-tutt. Much to my delight, Gerke's book has an index. Yeay! Brownie points for that. However, it is neither a competent nor comprehensive index, as I discovered when I tried to use it to look up the specific neuro-chemicals mentioned in Part Two and found that the index did not include any of the key words that flowed through that section (e.g. oxytocin, GABA, serotonin, dopamine, Sine Wave). So, the brownie points have been negated by the demerits for an inadequate index. Part Three Once again, Gerke delights and surprises us by taking us on a walk through the writing woods with some interesting companions: in this part of the book it's Joseph Campbell (to talk about monomyth), Carl Jung (to talk about the twelve archetypes), and finally Aristotle (to talk about his rhetoric). All fascinating stuff, covered in not too much detail but with some good references to more detailed information if we want to follow up. The Rules Covered in Part One 1. Prologues (to have or not) 2. Description (to use or not) 3. -ly adverbs (good or bad) 4. Purple prose and painted paragraphs (good or bad) 5. The Immediate Inciting Incident (do you need it at the beginning and if so, how soon) 6. "To Be" Verbs (to avoid or not) 7. Show versus Tell (considerations) 8. Begin with Action (how important is this?) 9. Point of View (which is best?) 10. Speech attributes (should we use variations of "he said, she said" or not?) 11. Outlining (should you or shouldn't you?) 12. That (to use or not to use) 13. Switching between Storylines (is this good or bad?) 14. Floating body parts (should we say things like "he rolled his eyes" if you can't really roll an eye?) 15. Gerunds, Participial Phrases, Sentence Fragments, Beginning with Conjunctions, Ending with Prepositions, and Passive Voice (are these pitfalls or no problem?) 16. Breaking the Fourth Wall (by addressing the reader directly - the pros and cons) 17. Weasel Words (in the ear of the beholder?) 18. Read Everything (really?) 19. Elmore Leonard's 10 Rules(what Gerke's stand is on these) 20. The Big Enchilada (a conglomeration of yet more rules around things like the use of the present tense, italicizing dialogue, introducing too many characters too quickly, paragraph length etc)

  5. 4 out of 5

    Panda Incognito

    I often read writing instruction books in spite of the author's voice. This was a happy exception. The book was not overly technical or overly chummy, but conveyed the author's voice and personality in a positive way. He seems like a wonderfully likable guy, and although that isn't necessary in all nonfiction, it's very helpful with instructional material. The first part of this book addresses the pervasive and contradictory "writing rules" which baffle those who want to write good fiction and re I often read writing instruction books in spite of the author's voice. This was a happy exception. The book was not overly technical or overly chummy, but conveyed the author's voice and personality in a positive way. He seems like a wonderfully likable guy, and although that isn't necessary in all nonfiction, it's very helpful with instructional material. The first part of this book addresses the pervasive and contradictory "writing rules" which baffle those who want to write good fiction and receive conflicting instructions from both peers and writing experts. It's kind of like parenting: everyone has their contradictory hills to die on, and the hapless newbie has no idea who to listen to. This book details arguments for and against rules such as "never/always use prologues" or "never use adverbs," and encourages writers to reflect on what they prefer to read, and then decide how they want to tell their own story. The second and third parts of this book, which are considerably shorter, zero in on the concept of reader engagement, explaining traditional archetypes and how the brain chemically reacts to different narrative structures and events. Even though I have been writing for years and could have passed on this book as beginner-oriented, I found that it was very helpful, clarifying, and encouraging. No matter where you are on your writing journey, this book can be both a helpful tool and a joy to read.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Diane Holcomb

    Here's a unique guide to help you home in on your fiction voice. What are your favorite books? And why? How do the authors of these books introduce their characters? What point of view do they use? Do they start with a bang? By answering these (and other) questions posed by Jeff Gerke, you discover what kind of writer you want to be based on what you love as a reader. Another brilliant aspect of this book is Gerke's explanation of how to "hack your reader's brain" for emotional connection, throug Here's a unique guide to help you home in on your fiction voice. What are your favorite books? And why? How do the authors of these books introduce their characters? What point of view do they use? Do they start with a bang? By answering these (and other) questions posed by Jeff Gerke, you discover what kind of writer you want to be based on what you love as a reader. Another brilliant aspect of this book is Gerke's explanation of how to "hack your reader's brain" for emotional connection, through the use of a brain chemistry story map. Huh? Trust me, this is good stuff. Throw in Jung's twelve archetypes for character traits, Joseph Campbell's hero's journey for character development, and Artistotle's art of persuasion to hook a reader, and you've got some powerful tools for your writer's toolbox. The bulk of the book is a run-down of the "paralyzing rules of fiction," from prologues to adverbs to show versus tell to Leonard Elmore's advice. Gerke shares the opinions of those for, those against, and then sums it up with his own ideas. Absorb it all, and you can form your own set of rules. It's well worth adding this gem to your fiction-writing collection.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Wendy Bunnell

    I've been reading a number of books on writing lately, and this has been my favorite so far when it comes to reading a book like this cover to cover. Some are interesting resources and have useful lists and whatnot, but this actually read more like a story, but the plot was "here is a bunch of writing don't and why people feel this way and when it's ok to do it anyway." It actually did a great job of explaining why writers are told to 1.) not have prologues, 2.) don't use passive voice, 3.) deat I've been reading a number of books on writing lately, and this has been my favorite so far when it comes to reading a book like this cover to cover. Some are interesting resources and have useful lists and whatnot, but this actually read more like a story, but the plot was "here is a bunch of writing don't and why people feel this way and when it's ok to do it anyway." It actually did a great job of explaining why writers are told to 1.) not have prologues, 2.) don't use passive voice, 3.) death to all adverbs (and most of your adjectives too, my pretty), 4.) avoid the dreaded head-hopping of third person omniscient, 5.) pretty much any other writing "advice" you may have received gets the pros / cons / and the author's personal feelings treatment. It was interesting. Also we got an in-depth discussion of Joseph Conrad's "the hero's journey" and I'd never really seen it all spelled out. Now I want to grab other books and see how closely they match this model.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Courtney Kleefeld

    I'm thankful for this book because it helped me see both sides of the argument for many, many writing "rules" and decide which way I leaned towards more often. This book is not about writing thought-provoking art, by the way. It's more about writing a book that will engage readers, but first and foremost engaging /yourself/ in your own story as its first reader and discovering your writing voice a little better. I highly recommend it to writers who want to see both sides of the argument for many t I'm thankful for this book because it helped me see both sides of the argument for many, many writing "rules" and decide which way I leaned towards more often. This book is not about writing thought-provoking art, by the way. It's more about writing a book that will engage readers, but first and foremost engaging /yourself/ in your own story as its first reader and discovering your writing voice a little better. I highly recommend it to writers who want to see both sides of the argument for many things they've heard were "rules" but weren't sure about, and to writers who want to find out for themselves what they want to write.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Booky_Wookiee

    Fabulous fabulous fabulous. I loved this book so much. It was informative, filled with many tips. The fact that nothing was a 'rule' I liked because I hate 'rules' on how to write a good novel. This book was engaging, amusing, and plain amazing. Fabulous fabulous fabulous. I loved this book so much. It was informative, filled with many tips. The fact that nothing was a 'rule' I liked because I hate 'rules' on how to write a good novel. This book was engaging, amusing, and plain amazing.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Abigayle Claire

    Wow. This book is so unlike all other writing craft books I've read that I zipped through it. It's not about the writing craft really, but the storytelling craft. It's about engaging your reader instead of punctuation and word order. So this book grew me in ways I didn't expect and also encouraged me. As an editor, my approach was reaffirmed. (It's not all about the rules and ultimately it's the writer's book.) I now have an idea of how find my target audience. I have grounded, less technical app Wow. This book is so unlike all other writing craft books I've read that I zipped through it. It's not about the writing craft really, but the storytelling craft. It's about engaging your reader instead of punctuation and word order. So this book grew me in ways I didn't expect and also encouraged me. As an editor, my approach was reaffirmed. (It's not all about the rules and ultimately it's the writer's book.) I now have an idea of how find my target audience. I have grounded, less technical approaches to plotting a story. Ultimately, this books is the WHY to the HOW. There are so many things we innately do as a writer and enjoy as a reader. But this is the science and structure behind why all of that works, which enables us to be more intentional from here on out. Beyond Jeff's epic humor, I loved that the book frees writers instead of giving them a checklist. I didn't expect to be introduced to brain science, Aristotle, and archetypes, but I'm glad I was. Having all of it here in one place, both reaffirming what I do and showing me how to do it better, all the while leaving it up to me, is powerful.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Rebekah Gyger

    Though writing nonfiction, Gerke has a sense of humor that pulls you in and makes learning engaging. Despite having heard much of this before, whether from him at conference or picking up the information on my own, I still found myself reading this over the novel I had started just before it. Had I picked this up at the vary start of my writing journey, it would have been invaluable to me, and even now it is still a good reminder. Reading through the pros and cons of each rule, as well as the "f Though writing nonfiction, Gerke has a sense of humor that pulls you in and makes learning engaging. Despite having heard much of this before, whether from him at conference or picking up the information on my own, I still found myself reading this over the novel I had started just before it. Had I picked this up at the vary start of my writing journey, it would have been invaluable to me, and even now it is still a good reminder. Reading through the pros and cons of each rule, as well as the "formula" for creating an irresistible novel, gave me a chance to think through some of my own writing and fix some issues I had been struggling with. Sometimes it is good to get a reminder, and if I have to read a text on writing or suggest one to someone else, it would be this one.

  12. 4 out of 5

    C.S. Wachter

    I enjoyed reading Jeff Gerke’s wonderful little book about ‘How to Craft an Extraordinary Story That Engages Readers from Start to Finish’. This gem should be required reading for every new author. By pointing out the pros and cons of the many ‘rules’ new writers are told they must follow, it frees them from the paralysis that can result. Gerke’s easy-going presentation clears the air and makes way for him to present the cardinal rule of writing: engage your reader. In part two, he presents info I enjoyed reading Jeff Gerke’s wonderful little book about ‘How to Craft an Extraordinary Story That Engages Readers from Start to Finish’. This gem should be required reading for every new author. By pointing out the pros and cons of the many ‘rules’ new writers are told they must follow, it frees them from the paralysis that can result. Gerke’s easy-going presentation clears the air and makes way for him to present the cardinal rule of writing: engage your reader. In part two, he presents information about how readers’ brains respond to what they read, how they engage. Part three gives story telling tools that have survived the test of time. I highly recommend The Irresistible Novel to writers and readers alike.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Colleen

    Useful read for authors like me in the early stages of their careers. Puts writing rules in context, good summary of the hero's journey, and tips on engaging readers. Useful read for authors like me in the early stages of their careers. Puts writing rules in context, good summary of the hero's journey, and tips on engaging readers.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Susan Misey

    If you’ve ever sat through a writer’s critique group that completely stymied your self-confidence as a writer, RUN, don’t walk to the computer or local bookstore to buy this book. It is the antidote to the negative critique group experience and SO MUCH MORE. The full title of Jeff Gerke’s fabulous book is THE IRRESISTIBLE NOVEL: How to Craft an Extraordinary Story That Engages Readers from Start to Finish. In this book, Gerke debunks the often quoted RULES FOR WRITERS that some members of writing c If you’ve ever sat through a writer’s critique group that completely stymied your self-confidence as a writer, RUN, don’t walk to the computer or local bookstore to buy this book. It is the antidote to the negative critique group experience and SO MUCH MORE. The full title of Jeff Gerke’s fabulous book is THE IRRESISTIBLE NOVEL: How to Craft an Extraordinary Story That Engages Readers from Start to Finish. In this book, Gerke debunks the often quoted RULES FOR WRITERS that some members of writing critique groups wield like arrows to deflate their fellow writers. From Gerke’s introduction: “I believe in the power of writing peers to help elevate your fiction. Critique groups can be wonderful. However, they can also be toxic. Some of the most vehement enforcers of fiction rules–[cough] crit group Nazis [cough] are ruling critique groups across the land. Even if they’re well-meaning, they tend to implement the most paralyzing rules that the typical aspiring novelist will ever encounter.” The first and major part of this book is entitled “FREE YOURSELF FROM THE PARALYZING RULES OF FICTION.” That alone is worth the purchase price of the book. 411yxHkFZ6L.jpg And so aptly named. As my father used to say, “Don’t get paralysis from analysis.” And yet, that’s just what happens at too many critique groups. What I loved most about Gerke’s approach in this book is: he defines and describes the rule he details the position(s) of those opposed to the rule he details the position(s) of those in favor of the rule he gives HIS opinion of the rule with EXAMPLES from books and movies–his opinion is never presented as gospel–he never tells writers what to do and what not to do–he merely presents both sides, his opinion, and encourages writers to follow their own muse now that they have seen all sides of a “rule” he further details how to get past the gatekeepers (publishers and agents) if you choose to “violate” the rule each chapter ends with a fill in the blank manifesto in which you, the writer, can decide your position on the issue Sounds great, right? But that’s not all Gerke provides here. After all, his title promises we’re going to learn how to craft an extraordinary story that engages our readers. And here’s where the magic happens. Gerke presents scientific studies and evidence on how writers can use storytelling techniques to hook our readers and reel them in from Page One to The End. He further explores three time-tested pioneering masters of narrative, characterization and persuasion and breaks down how writers today can apply age-old wisdom to their own craft. Even if you are completely right-brained like me, and the mere talk of science and math puts you in a cold sweat, fear not. Gerke breaks down the scientific information in a palatable manner you can actually apply to your writing today. I nearly bled my highlighter dry in Part II THE GREAT COMMANDMENT OF FICTION and Part III THE BRAIN’S GREATEST HITS. I am going to apply every bit of wisdom I learned from Jeff Gerke, himself a multi-published author, conference-speaker/teacher, and former owner of a publishing company. Starting with his book’s pithy Dedication: To all the writers of fiction who have been harmed by the so-called “rules of fiction” May you find freedom and healing, and may you sweep your readers away.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Victor

    Well, first off, I opted for this book because my library didn't have King's "On Writing" and I thought I'd give it a go since there weren't many other options. I wanted a book that would help me on my road to becoming a better writer. It started off nice, the language informal and Gerke super relatable. I got through the first hundred pages and it wasn't too bad, though I started getting tired of the "those opposed, those in favor, my opinion" format, but that soon changed once I reached the se Well, first off, I opted for this book because my library didn't have King's "On Writing" and I thought I'd give it a go since there weren't many other options. I wanted a book that would help me on my road to becoming a better writer. It started off nice, the language informal and Gerke super relatable. I got through the first hundred pages and it wasn't too bad, though I started getting tired of the "those opposed, those in favor, my opinion" format, but that soon changed once I reached the second half of the book and I was relieved. I raced to get through this book, and I don't mean that in a good way. While he does touch upon topics and issues concerning the art of storytelling, that's all he does. He "touches", he never really delves into any of these things, and in the end, his teachings felt shallow. My mind wandered during the second half of the book, mostly because he tried to shove so much information onto the pages without elaborating and also because his writing began to irk me. Whenever he references a movie or book (usually a movie), he feels the need to include like five or six examples to make his point, and then another two or three in the next paragraph without even explaining why these characters are pertinent. It's so aggravating. And the excessive use of parenthetical explanations; dude, come on. In the beginning, his laxed view of storytelling was endearing. I thought he was cool for saying that the rules of writing need not apply because it's all about engaging the audience from start to finish. HOWEVER, as I continued upon my trek (this reading felt like a chore, unfortunately), I was waiting for him to take a stance on something. Tell me that doing "this" is better than doing "that", but instead, he tip-toes all over the place. He also references a neuroscientist and tries to explain the science behind storytelling, which made the work of the actual scientist seem like a farce, a product of psuedoscience. The super informal tone he took on from the beginning, when brought into the second half of the book feels out of place. I thought about giving this book 4 stars at the 50% mark, I'm so serious. But then I was bombarded with information I was too bored to actually pay attention to. I downgraded to a 3.5, then to a 3 at some point. The constant movie referencing got it down to a 2.5, and the unnecessary parenthetical explanations was the reason for a 2, because I'm not stupid, I can Google the pop culture reference. The only reason it didn't get a one was because it seemed Gerke really tried to convey some knowledge to me. He just ultimately failed at it. I guess you can't knock a person for finding a hustle, making a living doing something they enjoy, but when you try to pass on something like this as an actual teaching script...I don't know man. I guess you can learn a few secondhand things, maybe even find something useful if you look intently. In the end, would not recommend.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Richard New

    In The Irresistible Novel, by author Jeff Gerke, part one of Gerke's book, he covers the "rules/tools" of modern fiction writing in a delightful and easy-going style. His definitions and examples are succinct, lightweight, and witty. For the writer's manuscript, with one or two exceptions concerning the first fifty pages, (where the publishing gatekeepers really pay attention), Gerke advises the writer to be comfortable with whatever tools she uses. In part two, the main caveats are to keep the r In The Irresistible Novel, by author Jeff Gerke, part one of Gerke's book, he covers the "rules/tools" of modern fiction writing in a delightful and easy-going style. His definitions and examples are succinct, lightweight, and witty. For the writer's manuscript, with one or two exceptions concerning the first fifty pages, (where the publishing gatekeepers really pay attention), Gerke advises the writer to be comfortable with whatever tools she uses. In part two, the main caveats are to keep the reader entertained throughout the book—you must engage your reader from beginning to end. Submit your manuscript to a publisher who thinks like the writer and who will not have an issue with any tools the writer uses. Until the writer negotiates these waters, rejection slips grow like pond scum. In part three, Gerke reiterates The Writer's Journey (a very helpful book by Christopher Vogler), and then follows with explanations of the main different character types. Gerke finishes his instructions with how to work your reader's emotions to encourage starting and finishing the book. About the Author: Jeff Gerke writes empowering how-to books for writers through Writer's Digest, teaches writers at conferences yearly, and through freelance mentoring and editing services at www.jeffgerke.com. Jeff is the founder and former owner of Marcher Lord Press, a small science fiction and fantasy publishing company, and is the author of the Operation: Firebrand trilogy of military thrillers. (From page 230 of The Irresistible Novel.)

  17. 5 out of 5

    Kristen Stieffel

    I don't often throw around the phrase "must read," but all writers — and editors — must read this book. The Irresistible Novel explains one of the great conundrums of publishing: why writers like Dan Brown, Stephenie Meyer, and E.L. James have best-selling books despite producing mediocre prose. In Part One Gerke debunks a vast number of so-called "rules" that have been foisted on writers down the ages by critique partners and, let's be honest, editors who didn't know the difference between a sty I don't often throw around the phrase "must read," but all writers — and editors — must read this book. The Irresistible Novel explains one of the great conundrums of publishing: why writers like Dan Brown, Stephenie Meyer, and E.L. James have best-selling books despite producing mediocre prose. In Part One Gerke debunks a vast number of so-called "rules" that have been foisted on writers down the ages by critique partners and, let's be honest, editors who didn't know the difference between a style choice and a rule. This section will liberate writers who've been hamstrung by misguided advice. Part Two gets to the bad-prose conundrum. Gerke shows that what sells books is not exquisitely crafted sentences or perfect grammar, but specific hooks and emotional triggers that stimulate chemical reactions in readers' brains. Dan Brown is a best-seller because of adrenaline, and Meyer and James crush it by stimulating dopamine. Part Three examines monomyth, archetypes, and rhetoric to show how master storytellers and orators have used these techniques to hook listeners and readers since ancient days. I said "all writers" and I meant it. Although Gerke's focus is on novel writing, these techniques are equally applicable to narrative nonfiction and other forms of storytelling. Besides, every writer needs to know that it's all right to use adverbs as long as you do so appropriately.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Fire

    The Irresistible Novel is a great book for any author. It helps you sift through the seemingly endless supply of contrary views and opinions on how you should write. Each chapter covers various "Writing Rules" that most writers have heard, or will hear at some point in time. In the chapters Gerke covers what the "Rule" is and the arguments for it, and the arguments against it. Then he shares his own opinion on the matter. Gerke is well qualified to give his opinion on each of these rules since h The Irresistible Novel is a great book for any author. It helps you sift through the seemingly endless supply of contrary views and opinions on how you should write. Each chapter covers various "Writing Rules" that most writers have heard, or will hear at some point in time. In the chapters Gerke covers what the "Rule" is and the arguments for it, and the arguments against it. Then he shares his own opinion on the matter. Gerke is well qualified to give his opinion on each of these rules since he has sat on both sides of the fence as both and author and a publisher. Gerke has not only written several novels and writing guides, but he also started his own publishing house which he ran and grew. This book was helpful for me because it allowed me to see both sides of the argument and helped me realized that some of these "writing rules" I had heard are merely opinions and personal preferences. One of the the biggest take aways from this is a better understanding of how to write and knowing that I don't have to comply with these so called "rules" because where one publisher or agent might adhere to them, the next will feel the opposite way. In the end if you find a publisher or agent that doesn't care for your style of writing, then its probably not the right fit for you and there are others out there that might very well love your style. This book was encouraging and helped clear the fog of the many do's and don'ts of writing. 5 Stars!

  19. 5 out of 5

    Rachel

    Engaging, Engaging, insightful book on the art of storytelling You might not expect laugh-aloud moment in a craft book on the art of fiction. This guide to the art of engaging readrrs is packed with ideas and principles of storytelling, some of it --surprisingly -- backed by hard science and always related in a conversational, easy style. I felt I was having a fireside chat with a wonderful author who was sharing his secrets of success.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Jason C.

    Jeff Gerke has done it again. He has tackled some of the most common writing "rules" and broken down just how important they are. The heart of the book is how he shows there is one rule - don't bore the reader, and uses science to show us how to do that. If you've read other writing books and are still struggling with how to connect with readers or are frustrated by the "rules", this is the book for you. Jeff Gerke has done it again. He has tackled some of the most common writing "rules" and broken down just how important they are. The heart of the book is how he shows there is one rule - don't bore the reader, and uses science to show us how to do that. If you've read other writing books and are still struggling with how to connect with readers or are frustrated by the "rules", this is the book for you.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Frostling

    This is a book that encourages would-be writers not to feel too concerned about rules/guidelines, telling its readers to simply ignore or break them. It gives a nice positive message, but after a few pages it feels repetitive and non-committal. Still, it's a new (at least to me) approach to the art of writing. Worth a look, if only for its extensive list of rules and how to break-or-not-break them. This is a book that encourages would-be writers not to feel too concerned about rules/guidelines, telling its readers to simply ignore or break them. It gives a nice positive message, but after a few pages it feels repetitive and non-committal. Still, it's a new (at least to me) approach to the art of writing. Worth a look, if only for its extensive list of rules and how to break-or-not-break them.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Jessica Morgan

    I enjoyed it overall. The last two chapters tended to drag. I found it to be overflowing with useful information.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Michelle Cornish

    This is the best book on writing I've read so far! I love the way this book is structured. Jeff covers writing rules you hear all the time then shares when you can and can't break the rules and what he does in his own writing. It helped me see that I don't have to take all the advice I get from other writers. Sometimes the rules work and sometimes they don't and Jeff's examples are excellent. I highly recommend this to any aspiring author. Jeff's style makes for an entertaining read too. This is the best book on writing I've read so far! I love the way this book is structured. Jeff covers writing rules you hear all the time then shares when you can and can't break the rules and what he does in his own writing. It helped me see that I don't have to take all the advice I get from other writers. Sometimes the rules work and sometimes they don't and Jeff's examples are excellent. I highly recommend this to any aspiring author. Jeff's style makes for an entertaining read too.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Chris

    The first section on fiction craftsmanship rules is excellent. It will help you see those "rules" in perspective and decide where you stand on them. The second section on what works in stories to capture the reader is very good. The last section on the heroes journey, rhetoric etc. is just okay. I found it a bit tedious but the other sections are worth a read for any aspiring writer. The first section on fiction craftsmanship rules is excellent. It will help you see those "rules" in perspective and decide where you stand on them. The second section on what works in stories to capture the reader is very good. The last section on the heroes journey, rhetoric etc. is just okay. I found it a bit tedious but the other sections are worth a read for any aspiring writer.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Heather Myers

    Great read I really liked how this book works: it breaks down supposed rules for fiction and looks at both sides of why the rule works. It also talks about the psychology of engaging a reader, based on science and research. A great read and an interesting perspective on writing. Thank you for sharing!

  26. 4 out of 5

    Gabriella Stalker

    I've read a LOT of books on writing, and I finally found something new in this one! I would recommend it for any aspiring novelist. The sections on neuroscience, or "hacking your reader's brain", are especially interesting. I've read a LOT of books on writing, and I finally found something new in this one! I would recommend it for any aspiring novelist. The sections on neuroscience, or "hacking your reader's brain", are especially interesting.

  27. 5 out of 5

    C.J. Beaumont

    This is the most liberating book I've ever read as an author. This freed me to write and self-publish the stories I want to write without worrying about all the so-called "rules" of writing. This is the most liberating book I've ever read as an author. This freed me to write and self-publish the stories I want to write without worrying about all the so-called "rules" of writing.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Jansen Schmidt

    This is by far the best writing "craft" book I have read. It just makes sense. Thank you Mr. Gerke for validating me as a writer even though I don't always follow "the rules." This is by far the best writing "craft" book I have read. It just makes sense. Thank you Mr. Gerke for validating me as a writer even though I don't always follow "the rules."

  29. 4 out of 5

    Audrey

    I can't say I didn't learn anything and since three stars on here means I still liked it I don't think that's inaccurate. I just found it a little bit repetitive for my taste. I can't say I didn't learn anything and since three stars on here means I still liked it I don't think that's inaccurate. I just found it a little bit repetitive for my taste.

  30. 5 out of 5

    C.O. Bonham

    The Irresistible Novel by: Jeff Gerke, is irresistible, well for a writer anyway. The tag line is, "How to craft an extraordinary story that engages readers from start to finish. What writer wouldn't pick up a book that promised that? This book is split into three parts. The first part frees the novelist from the "Rules of Fiction." All those little nit-pickety things that other writers tell you not to do. As in: "don't make up words," like nit-pickety. Newly freed to once again use ly-adverbs, th The Irresistible Novel by: Jeff Gerke, is irresistible, well for a writer anyway. The tag line is, "How to craft an extraordinary story that engages readers from start to finish. What writer wouldn't pick up a book that promised that? This book is split into three parts. The first part frees the novelist from the "Rules of Fiction." All those little nit-pickety things that other writers tell you not to do. As in: "don't make up words," like nit-pickety. Newly freed to once again use ly-adverbs, the aspiring novelist is thrown into the world of neuroscience in part two. This section is all about hacking the readers brain. Here Gerke gives use sciencey jargon like dopamine and oxytocin. Then he explains how and when the casual reader's brain will use these chemicals during the course of a novel. Fascinating stuff. The third part goes back to the ancient myth of the Hero's journey and shows who modern science actually validates the timeless success of classic literary tropes. This book is essential for the beginning novelist who feels bogged down by all of the how to books and the critique groups out there trying to suck all the creativity out of writing fiction.

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