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David Farland is an award-winning, international best-selling author with over 50 novels in print. He has won the Philip K. Dick Memorial Special Award for "Best Novel in the English Language" for his science fiction novel On My Way to Paradise, the Whitney Award for "Best Novel of the Year" for his historical novel In the Company of Angels, and he has won over seven awards—including the International Book Award and the Hollywood Book Festival, Grand Prize—for his fantasy thriller Nightingale. He is best known, however, for his New York Times best-selling fantasy series The Runelords, which will soon be made into a graphic novel and, likely, a movie.

Farland has written for major franchises such as Star Wars and The Mummy. In the video game industry, he has been both a designer and a scripter and was the co-leader on the design team for StarCraft: Brood War.

As a writing instructor, Farland has mentored dozens who have gone on to staggering literary success, including such #1 New York Times Bestsellers as Brandon Mull (Fablehaven), Brandon Sanderson (Wheel of Time), James Dashner (The Maze Runner) and Stephenie Meyer (Twilight).

Drawing on the Power of Resonance in Writing by David Farland

All successful writers use resonance to enhance their stories by drawing power from stories that came before, by resonating with their readers' experiences, and by resonating within their own works.

In this book, you'll learn exactly what resonance is and how to use it to make your stories more powerful. You'll see how it is used in literature and other art forms, and how one writer, J. R. R. Tolkien, mastered it in his work.

CURATOR'S NOTE

NYT bestseller David Farland has been my co-instructor for years at the Superstars Writing Seminars, where we mainly focus on the business aspects of publishing and building a writing career. But as the coordinating judge and lead instructor for the famed Writers of the Future Contest, Dave also teaches writing technique. This book will help you wring the most reaction out of every sentence. – Kevin J. Anderson

 
 

BOOK PREVIEW

Introduction

A few years ago, I was asked to speak at a writing conference. The conference had been running for twenty years, and the administrator said, "We've covered just about every topic that I can think of over the past twenty years. Is there anything that you can think of that we haven't discussed?"

Immediately I suggested, "Well, of course one of the most important skills for a writer to master is the proper use of resonance."

The administrator was taken aback and asked, "What is resonance?"

Then it struck me. I had never heard any writer discuss resonance in writing at any conference. I'd never read a book or article on the topic. I'd never had one of my writing instructors discuss it. As far as I could tell, they were completely in the dark.

Instead of learning about resonance in one grand discourse, I picked up on the topic in bits and pieces. I'd read a brief mention about it in an article written by a master editor. An agent once spoke about it directly. I overheard a New York Times bestselling author try to explain the concept to a new writer, and T.S. Eliot touched upon it as he struggled to write works that were woven into the tapestry of literature as a whole. Mostly I had learned about it in Hollywood while working with directors.

But I've never heard novelists or writing instructors even mention the topic.

When I went to that writing conference years ago, perhaps forty writers attended my class. Many of them had studied the craft for decades. So I asked, "How many of you know what resonance is?" I was met by blank stares. Only one author had even heard the term, and she couldn't tell me what it meant.

All successful writers use resonance to enhance their stories by drawing power from stories that came before, by resonating with their readers' experiences, and by resonating within their own works.

In this book, you'll learn exactly what resonance is and how to use it to make your stories more powerful. You'll see how it is used in literature and other art forms, and how one writer, J. R. R. Tolkien, mastered it in his work.

WHAT IS RESONANCE?

n the field of music, a musical refrain is said to "resonate" when it "draws power by repeating that which has come before." Beethoven's Fifth Symphony is a masterpiece of resonance, and it is so well known that you may be able to listen to it in your head from memory:

Da, da, da, dum.

Da, da, da, dum.…

In case you can't play it in your head, search for it online.

As you listen to the symphony, you'll hear how Beethoven starts with a simple theme, repeating the same four notes twice, and then he has a change-up and expands upon that theme. He does this dozens of times, coming up with variation after variation, eventually seeming to abandon the theme altogether.

Indeed, a few minutes into the symphony there is a shocking moment where we realize that we have come full circle. Beethoven returns to the original theme, playing louder and more boldly than before. In music, when a refrain gains power by repeating something that has gone before, we say that it resonates.

But the same thing happens in literature. We feel powerful emotions when we read a book that somehow resembles other works that we love. For example, you may read a new author and discover that the author's world is similar to one that you've visited in literature and loved before. If you're a fan of the pirating world in Treasure Island, you might find that you really like Tim Powers's On Stranger Tides. You'll almost instantly feel a great affinity for Tim's work.

In a similar way, a tale may also resonate when it evokes powerful emotions by drawing upon the reader's own past experience. For example, a woman who has been divorced may read a passage in a novel and realize, "Wow, this author has really been through it, too. We really do have a lot in common."

There are literally hundreds of ways to create resonance—through voice, tone, characterization, imagery, setting, or simply by referring to popular works, by bringing common experiences to life, and so on.

To the reader, a story that resonates powerfully may seem especially significant or rich—much more so than a tale that doesn't resonate.