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Saturday, December 31, 2011

Book Review: Help! for Writers by Roy Peter Clark

This book is full of good, practical tips that can help writers of ALL types!
by Roy Peter Clark
  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown and Company; 1 edition (September 21, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316126713
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316126717
   Genre: Nonfiction; Improvement
   My Rating:  5.0 of 5.0

Book Description
Publication Date: September 21, 2011
The craft of writing offers countless potential problems: The story is too long; the story's too short; revising presents a huge hurdle; writer's block is rearing its ugly head.

In HELP! FOR WRITERS, Roy Peter Clark presents an "owner's manual" for writers, outlining the seven steps of the writing process, and addressing the 21 most urgent problems that writers face. In his trademark engaging and entertaining style, Clark offers ten short solutions to each problem. Out of ideas? Read posters, billboards, and graffiti. Can't bear to edit yourself? Watch the deleted scenes feature of a DVD, and ask yourself why those scenes were left on the cutting-room floor. HELP! FOR WRITERS offers 210 strategies to guide writers to success.

This easily laid out text covers tips for writing from “Getting Started” to  “Finding Focus” to “Building a Draft”, and all the way to the final chapter, “Keeping the Faith.”   Each of seven chapters is broken into three subsections that key in on specific topics to help a writer move along in the right direction.  This starts with the basics like finding ideas in everyday situations, researching, and organizing ideas and research. Next the author directs focus to beginning, looking for the right language, then building a draft.  Once you are into the piece you need to assess your progress and determine how to meet your deadlines. Clark address 'sagging' middles and getting the ending right. Finally you get to learn to accept criticism, improve by revising and editing. The author gives tips to get around writer’s block and gives encouragement to ‘keep the faith.’

The style of this book is engaging and easy to follow. I had marked a good half dozen tips before I was halfway through the book. I particularly liked the section on looking for language, finding fitting words and pacing by the use of sentence structure. Also I liked the suggestions on defining the ending and then working towards that with the beginning and middle. Sort of backing into the story from the desired result. I know that not everyone writes that way as many authors are "pansters" and say how the characters lead them in the story. But working to a goal makes sense to me.

I picked this to read as I was sure I could get some tips from it. I don’t write fiction although I do write legal briefs or memoranda now and then and there were tips applicable for that. Also I write reviews and I found tips and ideas that help for review writing too. I recommend this book to anyone who writes no matter the genre or whether you write for fun or professionally.  Sorry I’m not giving this one away since it’s one I can keep on the shelf and use now and again.

I received this book from Little Brown & Company for an impartial review.

1 comment:

  1. Just my kind of book, and after reading your review I think I'll keep an eye out for that one!


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