I rate these novels, Three of Five stars!
Considering each book is fairly short and I rate each of them the same, I decided to add all five novels to one review. It was hard to really review these novels after going over Jordan Rosenfeld’s, Make a Scene. I thought, since that novel had pretty much everything, that nothing would compare and happily, I was only half right. Mary Buckham wrote three great books that gave me a lot to think about.
Active Setting Part
Books 1-3: Mary Buckham writes three lovely novels on Writing Active Setting.
The first book consists of Characterization and Sensory Detail by using Active Settings. The novel stretches across a few topics within its pages, it touches on anchoring the reader, using subtext in setting, pacing, revealing character through setting, POV, and Sensory details. I already knew most of what I needed to with these aspects of writing, but I did take a mental note of adding emotion to setting details.
The second book consists of Conflict, Emotion, and Backstory. With emotion, she shows how using concrete descriptions, foreshadowing and reinforcement can aid in showing emotion through setting. With conflict and backstory, she also shows you multiple ways of implementing it within the setting.
The third book follows the same structure as the two before it and consists of Anchoring, Action Sequences, Setting as a Character and other Setting Details. One thing I realized is that many times in my writing, I tend to forget about anchoring the reader in each scene. The third book allowed me to think over this and apply it to my editing process.
Each of these books throws “assignments” at you so you can practice the techniques shown and get used to the ways in which they can be used. So not only do these books tell you how to do things, it helps those learn by DOING rather than SEEING. Although each of these novels did not have much I could take from them, they still helped me rethink a couple of things about writing.
Active Hooks Part
Book 1-2: Mary Buckham works on helping us further understand writing with these next two books. This time, she works on helping us hook our readers with certain scenes and techniques.
The first book of the two discusses the kinds of hooks you can use in your writing and each type of hook shown comes with those gold old “assignments” from Mary again. The kinds of hooks she discusses are Action/Danger hooks, Empowering Emotion hooks, Surprising Situation hooks, Totally Unexpected hooks and Raising A Question hooks. In the end of the first book, you learn the “correct” way to creating and using multiple hooks.
The second book starts off the same as the last, giving you a couple more hooks to learn about and then close to half way, we get to the part you would be waiting for, how and where to place your hooks. Mary goes into a lot of detail with this and now, after learning everything from the other two books, you can finally make use of all the knowledge you’ve learned. She talks about placement in the opening paragraph, in prologues, opening a chapter with a hook, ending a chapter with a hook, opening and ending scenes with a hook and ending the book with a hook.
One thing I often forget to think about is, “Have I hooked my reader? Are they going to keep reading?”. The two books on writing hooks really helped me understand what could help hook a reader into your story.
All in all, Mary’s novels did help me and I am thankful to her for that. But they didn’t give me anywhere near as much help as I was seeking.