Mike Klaassen


Klaaasen (Cracks, 2014, etc.) identifies 11 different aspects of writing fiction in this how-to manual.

The average reader is probably familiar with some of the elements of fiction creation (or "modes," as Klaassen terms them): "exposition," "narration," "action." Others may seem a bit harder to pin down—"introspection," for example, or "recollection." There are 11 in all, according to the author's categorization, and he's quick to point out that no other available system currently recognizes them all: "If you don't know the eleven, you may be writing without all the tools available to you," he says. "That's the equivalent of a painter trying to create masterpieces with only a few colors." He gives each mode its own chapter, or more than one: a full quarter of the book, for instance, is dedicated to the mysteries of "conversation." The book compiles the modes into larger divisions of "interiority," "activity," "dialogue," and "exteriority." Each chapter breaks into subsections tackling smaller topics, with many examples and checklists to keep the information organized and aid readers' comprehension. The book's chapter content tables and concluding reiterations of major points make the work bear a greater resemblance to a textbook than to many other writing guides. The book is surprisingly comprehensive, given its relatively short length, and it dedicates sections to questions as specific as the use of slang and the difference between concrete and abstract nouns. There's a lot of advice here that even experienced writers may not have encountered before (such as, "In part, the amount of description depends upon the genre in which you are writing"). By the time Klaassen gets to "show, don't tell," readers have gotten their money's worth many times over. Overall, this book sits at the Apollonian end of the spectrum of writing guides, as the author attempts to break fiction writing down into as replicable a craft as possible. Free-spirited writers may prefer the softer, more personal touches of Anne Lamott and Natalie Goldberg, but aspiring scribblers who want to quickly absorb the fundamentals of the medium will find Klaassen's book to be a concise manual.

An orderly, no-frills guide to the craft of fiction writing. 


Whether you're a beginner or a master, there is something for you inside Mike Klaassen's Fiction-Writing Modes: Eleven Essential Tools for Bringing Your Story to Life. The book is expertly formatted and includes just about everything a novice or professional writer might need broken down into eleven modes. Each chapter opens with a list of forthcoming topics, such as Advancing Plot Through Dialogue: facial expressions, gestures, and movement. Other topics addressed include Sensation and Emotion (strong verb use, adverbs and adjectives, character reactions, setting, emotional journey and more), how to use introspection and recollection, how to advance the plot through action, and how to use attributions in dialogue. While the beginner writer will note unfamiliar terms such as exposition, stimulus-response order, and scene and sequel, adverbs of attribution, and obtrusive narration, the seasoned writer will hone their skills through reminders of strong verb usage, connotation and denotation, and use of transitions. Because so much is covered in Fiction-Writing Modes: Eleven Essential Tools for Bringing Your Story to Life, the book will be a splendid addition to any writer's library. 

In addition to providing the eleven writing modes, author Mike Klaassen uses writing examples to illustrate each topic in the book. No writing tool is mentioned without a follow-up example so writers get a sense of the ultimate goal. Also, the book covers punctuation, which is something many writing books do not include. Punctuation and grammar are important parts of the writing process, especially during editing and revision. The book concludes with a Glossary of Fiction-Writing Terms, which sums up the terms used in the book. I highly recommend Fiction-Writing Modes: Eleven Essential Tools for Bringing Your Story to Life to anyone interested in becoming a writer or polishing their writing skills. 

---Reviewed by Carla Trueheart for Readers' Favorite

Mike Klaassen has done his writing homework. 
Renown, young adult author Mike Klaassen gives back relevant and new information on fiction writing.  In an easy to read and easy to use compendium of eleven writing modes, Mike enumerates the writing modes all authors use, but few have really thought about.  He wades through a very difficult subject with unusual clarity in a valuable outline style.  He puts together and defines the modes of sensation, emotion, introspection, recollection, action, summarization, conversation, narration, description, exposition, and transition.  He provides many excellent examples of each.  As a skilled and published novel writer himself, Mike is well able to offer advice as well as easy to understand explanations of the writing modes.  This work is a necessary part of every author’s bookshelf, but it especially lends itself to the new writer who wants to significantly improve his or her fiction writing.
—Lionel D. Alford, author of Centurion, Aegypt, and The Fox's Honor.


ISBN: 978-1-68222-100-6


FICTION-WRITING MODES: Eleven Essential Tools for Bringing Your Story to Life