• The Emotional Craft of Fiction

  • How to Write the Story Beneath the Surface
  • By: Donald Maass
  • Narrated by: Timothy Andrés Pabon
  • Length: 7 hrs and 36 mins
  • 4.6 out of 5 stars (130 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Engage your readers with emotion.

While writers might disagree over showing versus telling or plotting versus pantsing, none would argue this: If you want to write strong fiction, you must make your readers feel. The reader's experience must be an emotional journey of its own, one as involving as your characters' struggles, discoveries, and triumphs are for you.

That's where The Emotional Craft of Fiction comes in. Veteran literary agent and expert fiction instructor Donald Maass shows you how to use story to provoke a visceral and emotional experience in readers. Topics covered include:

● Emotional modes of writing

● Beyond showing versus telling

● Connecting the inner and outer journeys and much more

Readers can simply read a novel...or they can experience it. The Emotional Craft of Fiction shows you how to make that happen.

©2016 Donald Maass (P)2020 Tantor

What listeners say about The Emotional Craft of Fiction

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Read this if you're a writer

My writing instructor, a successful author, referred me to Donald Maas’s The Emotional Craft of Fiction, and I am glad he did. Maas makes an airtight case for instilling emotion in works of fiction, and I will take heed. His emotional mastery checklists will come in very handy. I just finished the book and am already re-reading it to ensure a fuller understanding. If you’re an aspiring writer, and seek instructional material, choose this one. I am reading another book by another writing guru, but already I want to put it down. That one is formulaic; Maas’s book is inspirational.

15 people found this helpful

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Witty and worthwhile

This craft book of emotional enhancers is as much a commentary on the human condition as a how to or tool kit. The narrator is phenomenal and I felt empowered as a writer and as a human being when I was finished. A necessity for any author-aspiring or accomplished.

11 people found this helpful

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For Writers

Its a long book in comparison to some other shorter books that bring you to the craft of writing but it helped me ask the right questions about my characters and their emotions. I had been stuck in the editing process and after listening to this book I've come back to my work with all the questions and reflections. A useful book.

9 people found this helpful

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Can’t get passed the excerpt selections

there are plenty of great novels that can be used as examples to illustrate your point that are not about Pedophila, RAPE, or molestation.

How distracting and annoying, plus why are these the examples that stick out in your mind to use?

after the third example i couldn’t finish it and wanted my money back.

5 people found this helpful

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not that great

I expected better from Maass. And the vocalist's delivery put me to sleep. I pass.

5 people found this helpful

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Insightful

Thoughtful and insightful this makes a great companion to the print version. I recommend having a copy of the print version or writing down the end of chapter exercises for later referencing.

2 people found this helpful

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A fine book

A fine book, my only issue was with the narrator not saying when a quote begins and ends. Since the book is full of them and there was no audible (hehe) way of discerning quote from author voice, it was often confusing and hard to follow.

1 person found this helpful

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Terribly written, ironically

The exercises may well prove helpful but the way this guy writes sounds like the worse Hallmark card. “I love necklaces. I’m not a hippy or a cross dresser…”
For real. And the flaccid narration makes it even worse.

1 person found this helpful

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A book that opens you up

This is a book that gives you insight into emotions within your characters that you may have missed as a writer, and thereby opens you up to emotions within yourself as you write. Thus, it strengthens both yourself as a writer and the story you’re writing.

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Moving

I’ve found David Maass’ books on writing to be ‘must reads.’ For me they help to understand the books of others, and help develop my own skills and depth of writing…

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  • A. P. Hughes
  • 08-21-20

better than the print version

I bought this as a paperback, then used the audiobook as a refresher. It seems to flow better as an audiobook although that may be just because I had already had the benefit of the written version.
Still, a good listen and let's face it, who wouldn't take the advice of such a respected agent as Donald Maass

4 people found this helpful

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  • CeCe is Me
  • 03-23-21

Great purchase!

This book was so helpful. A little long-winded sometimes but am really glad I got it. I have a much better understanding of how to write emotions well now!

2 people found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 12-14-21

Very useful for fiction writers

I was very close to returning this at the beginning - it felt like one of those annoying self-help type novels with its checklists at the end of every chapter and almost too-positive tone (think, 'this is a tool that will help you write a book to sell millions of copies with a movie deal!'). At first, a lot of the advice also seems pretty obvious - create likeable characters, brilliant. However, I was patient with it and my mind has been changed. I do think this is a really useful book for anyone looking to write fiction.

A few chapters in I realised that the advice and examples were actually really really useful. Although the over-emphasis on emotion as this 'silver bullet of fiction' is cheesy and over-the-top, after listening to the whole thing and thinking about it when I read other fiction I've realised that there are some really key insights here. There were a lot of things I had never considered (when should you 'show' versus 'tell' your reader your character's emotion?) but even some of the seemingly obvious tips (give characters emotional stakes) were really helpful. You think about them in a more deeply. There are a LOT of examples from other fiction used here, I found these the most helpful. I went back and actually read books from a lot of the examples cited here and find that they were good inspiration to draw from. These insights are not only really important for writing good fiction (I agree with this author that without incorporating good emotion it's impossible to write a story people will care about) but also the kinds of things I haven't really read in other books about writing.

In summary, if you think it's sounding a little cheesy and silly - I'm with you here. However, I genuinely think there are some really helpful insights in chapters throughout this book that you can take away from this and I do recommend it for anyone looking to write good fiction.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Schuck Krisztián
  • 08-06-21

Pretty good, but has some unnecessary weight

The tips were pretty good, but sometimes too many and too long examples were quoted.
A good chunk of the could have been cut in my oppinion.

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  • BillionaireManzi
  • 07-14-21

Add to list

Give this a good listen in the time you gently want to learn something new and important

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  • John Cruickshank
  • 05-18-21

Not Engaged

I don’t know if it was the soothing voice of the narrator or the lengthy extracts from other books but I could not focus and constantly felt drowsy. This book has good insights, however, I sense the points could have been made more succinctly.