“Fiction,” an Australian author noted, “is life with the dull bits left out.” There are few, if any, dull bits in Many Genres, the compilation of essays that the editors, Arnzen and Miller, have assembled to advise would-be storytellers. The some four dozen writers in this book, linked by their association as faculty and graduates of the respected MFA writing program at Seton Hall University, include such well-knowns as Anne Harris, David Morrell, Tess Gerritsen, Nancy Kress, John DeChancie, and Tim Waggoner. They, and the many others, offer up very helpful advice on plotting, characterization, dialogue, research -- all the elements necessary to create compelling and winning stories and novels.
The genres represented include adventure, suspense, romance, science fiction, horror, fantasy, and young adult story lines. This pervasive coverage is rewarding, and often entertaining as well – “write what you love,” advises Rachael Pruitt; but if what you love is Arthurian fantasy, how can you “write what you know”? The answer is research, more research and hard work. The volume is filled with examples of just about every form of fiction, so the beginning novelist can draw on such a wide variety of writing styles, he or she can begin find the style that best suits his own inclinations. The collective suggestions are so useful, in fact, that non-fiction writers can learn much from the book to enliven their own narratives.
Taken as a whole, the book is extremely useful, and recommended to MWSA members. There is however one drawback in Many Genres, particularly for MWSA members -- there is no specific specialist in military fiction represented among these authors. It would be a good idea for aspiring military fiction writers to supplement the book by looking as well at the varied styles of such successful authors as David L. Robbins, Jeff Shaara, Eric Flint, and Steven Pressfield.
Reviewed by: Terry L. Shoptaugh (2012)
Well-known authors affiliated with Seton Hill University's MFA program offer advice on how to write successful genre novels.