Damn Fine Story
By Chuck Wendig
Paperback, 231 pages
2017, Writer’s Digest
Using examples from pop culture (with an emphasis on Star Wars and Die Hard) Wendig shares his wealth of writing tips on subjects like character development, story arcs, building tension, dialogue, empathy and more.
This was actually the first book by Wendig I’ve read (I have read his blog before and need to do so more regularly because he’s fucking hilarious) and now I’m forever in love.
First up, if you haven’t done so yet, please read something – anything – by Chuck, even if it’s just his blog. His tone is what I aspire to convey and fall horribly short of. He’s sassy, sarcastic, vulgar, funny, feminist and inspiring. I’m a total schmuck for not reading his work before now – I even own some of his Miriam Black novels!
In case you can’t already tell that I’m going to rave about this book…it’s fantastic! Wendig is comical and relatable, yet delivers excellent writing advice. Oftentimes writing guides can be dry, or maybe too full of personal experience to be helpful (depending on what style works for you). Wendig’s book is primarily filled with his “rules” and the pop culture examples he uses to help illustrate them – which I found insanely useful – and then a few personal moments here and there. I’ve never enjoyed a writing guide so much before.
I tabbed the fuck out of this book for future reference and even went through with a highlighter as well! This is something I almost never do, but I know I’ll be returning to this book often.
Even if you’re not aiming to write books, scripts or even games, I still think you should read this book because I’m now dedicating my life to pimping Wendig’s work it illustrates why many of the classic films and stories we love are so good. He highlights what makes us empathize with and love certain characters, what action scenes not only grip us but deliver more information about these characters and generally gave me a better understanding of the parts that make up the media I enjoy.
Here are just a few comical quotes I’ve highlighted for your enjoyment (his footnotes are solid gold, by the way):
“The comic book format is what would happen if a TV show and a novel had an ink-stained, four-color baby.”
“Two words: Freytag’s Pyramid. Nope, it’s not the strange occult store that just moved in at the edge of town. Nor is it a game show, the new drug all the kids are doing, or a kinky sex move. Though maybe it should be a kinky sex move.”
“We like to think of storytelling as actual magic. Like we have a little wizard or witch hiding in our heart, and she’s the one who’s barfing inspiration into us – where we then translate that magical inspiration-barf to our fingertips as we write or to our jabbering mouth-hole as we in turn regurgitate the tale at hand.”
If that isn’t enough to convince you to read this book, I don’t know what is.
I highly, highly, super-fuckin-highly recommend this book to all aspiring writers (of any form of media), those who love media and aren’t opposed to figuring out just why they love it and Star Wars fans.