Klaassen (Hansel and Gretel, 2016, etc.) discusses the foundational structures of fiction in this how-to guide to writing.
According to the author, the essential one-two punch of writing fiction is the scene, which he defines as “a passage of writing in which a character attempts to achieve a goal,” and what he terms the “sequel,” “a passage of writing in which the character reacts to the resolution of a scene.” Although people are generally familiar with the first concept, Klaassen argues that the sequel is just as important, as it places the events of a scene within an emotional context for the character and, thus, for the reader. The book gets into specifics regarding the purposes, goals, and ideal structures of both scenes and sequels, as well as other types of passages that one might encounter (including passages of interiority, activity, and problem-solving), in addition to troubleshooting tips for editing a manuscript. Klaassen also includes an extensive glossary of craft terms that apply to fiction so that readers may learn how to properly think and talk about their own projects. The author’s prose is crisp and clinical, and his book reads quickly despite its interest in minutiae. In this follow-up to his earlier, more comprehensive guide to fiction, 2015’s Fiction-Writing Modes, it’s fun to see him go deep into one specific area of the craft. It seems, though, that he might have come up with a better term than “sequel” for the introspective passages that follow scenes, given its other, more well-known meaning. The book also devotes an inordinate number of pages to simply explaining its focus, parsing through various definitions and related concepts borrowed from other writing guides. That said, most of Klaassen’s dissections of the different types of passages are quite thoughtful and illuminating. Although this book isn’t as valuable an aid as Fiction-Writing Modes, it does serve as a useful companion work, and more experienced writers may particularly benefit from its critical analysis.
A rare and mostly engaging dive into the nitty-gritty of scene construction.