Review for ‘Drawing on the Power of Resonance’ by David Farland

Drawing on the Power of Resonance, by David Farland. This is my 4th out of 50 self published books I’ve read this year. I read it for ‘free’ with Kindle Unlimited.


This book is a nonfiction book, writing guide about using and manipulating resonance in writing. What is resonance?

  • Resonance establishes genre expectations. As an example, if you’re writing a mystery book, you need to follow the mystery format- a crime needs to be committed early on in the story. In a fantasy story, you need to use similar tropes to other fantasy books, like dragons or wizards. In short, establishing resonance in a book is all about using the correct tropes, language and formats which your audience is used to.
  • Resonance is establishing a recurring motif in your story. For example, if your book is about abusing power, you have multiple characters abuse power in multiple ways throughout the story, exploring the topic of abuse thereby.
  • Resonance is in the power of language. Using Tolkein’s Middle Earth as an example, the name ‘Gandalf’ is an old world for ‘wand elf.’ ‘Sauron’ is Greek for ‘Lizard King.’ (Saur is the same root word as dinosaur, and the suffix -on means ‘the first.’) The name ‘Aragorn’ has it’s roots in the Spanish house of kings, ‘Aragon.’
  • Resonance establishes links with universal experiences. Birth, rites of passage, coming of age, marriage, parenthood, death. You know the whole coming of age genre? That entire genre exists in resonance with one another, each propping up the others.
  • Resonance echoes myths and legends. This book used Tolkein as an example again, with the Ring of Nibelung being the ur-example of the One Ring.
  • Or resonance can be in the context with modern stories, recently told. I’ll cite as an example the explosion of anti-colonial Fantasy books which have been published in recent years. (The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, Empire of Sand, The Poppy War, The Master of Djinn…)
    • All of these books, and more, exist in harmony with one another, discussing different aspects and interpretations of the same real-world topic.
    • Not only that, but readers who has a pleasant experience reading one of these books will no doubt feel inclined to reach out and try similar books. Other examples of this would be the Urban Fantasy boom/bust of fifteen years ago, or the vampire boom/bust, or the YA dystopia boom/bust.
    • Or we can cite how Eragon stood on the shoulders of Star Wars and McCaffry’s Dragonriders of Pern books.

I’m very glad I read this. I like branching out and reading new books on how to improve my writing, and more importantly to improve how I ‘think’ about writing. This was a short book, but it clearly codified seemingly obvious knowledge which I’d never thought about before. If you’re a creative, I think you should read it.

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