Write. by Phil Daoust (editor)

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Write. by Phil Daoust (editor)

Buy Write. by Phil Daoust (editor) at Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com

Category: Reference
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Linda Lawlor
Reviewed by Linda Lawlor
Summary: Writers think writing is hard. Everyone else thinks it's easy. Result: being an author is a lonely job. This book welcomes you into the community of fellow writers, with straightforward (and occasionally tongue-in-cheek) advice to help you on your way.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 162 Date: September 2012
Publisher: Guardian Books
ISBN: 9780852653289

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The Guardian newspaper has for some years now been publishing articles and interviews on how to write. Successful authors, agents and publishers have offered pearls of wisdom in the Guardian Masterclasses for genres as wide-ranging as travel writing, picture books and screenplays. Now their wisdom and their insights have been collected together in this slim volume which will intrigue both the readers and the writers among us.

The book is small, but it does contain a generous number of gems. The editor, Phil Daoust, has adopted a simple structure. The first section deals with the actual nuts and bolts of how to write. Various people have contributed essays, and they deal with such fundamental matters as dialogue, plot, description and the all-important and elusive quality known as voice. Andrew Miller, author of Oxygen, points out that even if you can't remember the plot of a Sherlock Holmes story you are more than likely to feel you know a lot about the hero and his sidekick Watson. Meg Rosoff, who wrote — among other best-selling books — the award-winning How I Live Now, draws fascinating comparisons between finding your own distinctive voice and the discipline of dressage. And MJ Hyland (Carry Me Down) delves into his stores of wisdom to offer seven techniques for coping with the traumas of redrafting and revising. Unfortunately, his essay suggests, your book isn't finished just because you've crawled your weary way through the dénouement to the last page and triumphantly typed THE END.

Following this is a more light-hearted section in which twenty-two of our best-known writers each produce a list of rules—dos and don'ts from the greats. Margaret Atwood advocates taking two pencils when travelling by plane (one is no good because in these safety-conscious days no self-respecting airline will allow you to carry a blade, even if you insist it is only a pencil sharpener). More than one of the writers featured here recommend long walks to help you clarify your thinking (and also, though they're too polite to say it, to counteract the effect of all those long hours in front of a computer screen with only the biscuit barrel for company). Neil Gaiman offers the most succinct piece of advice (Write.) which will only seem strange to people who do not know the manifold subterfuges authors practise to avoid that terrible moment of sitting down at the computer and getting down to business, and Colm Tóibín sings the praises of 'mental pyjamas'.

The third main part is a collection of short pieces by authors about how they wrote a particular book, and this is the section which will most particularly interest readers as well as writers. Again, the range is pleasingly wide, from Terry Pratchett (Unseen Academicals) to Mohsin Hamid (The Reluctant Fundamentalist). These are followed by a few final tips, ending with a hymn of praise to stationery by Hilary Mantel.

This is not the book for writers seeking an in-depth exploration of a particular aspect of writing. The chapters, though full of advice and beautifully written, are relatively brief and can only cover the basics, though it will prove useful to beginners who want an insight into this strange new world. But there are two groups who will probably appreciate it even more. Those who have been writing for a while will recognise and agree with much of the advice given. And reading these pages will give that other essential partner in the creation of a book—the reader—a deeper understanding of their favourite books. This book would, in short, make a perfect gift, and with luck will find its way into many stockings this Christmas.

There are mountains of books out there about how to write. Bookbag particularly likes How to Write Great Screenplays: And Get Them into Production and How to Write and Sell Great Short Stories, both by Linda James.

Buy Write. by Phil Daoust (editor) at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Write. by Phil Daoust (editor) at Amazon.co.uk

Buy Write. by Phil Daoust (editor) at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Write. by Phil Daoust (editor) at Amazon.com.


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