Okay, this book is awesome. It’s one of my very favorite books on writing. – Thanks, But This Isn’t For Us: A (Sort of) Compassionate Guide to Why Your Writing Is Being Rejected, by Jessica Page Morrell.
I think one of the best things about it is the tone she uses. There’s just something about the possibility of having my writing compared to “elderly shuffleboard” that makes the medicine go down easier, so to speak. 🙂 And, besides, if I can’t laugh at myself I’m in big, big trouble.
The author covers a wide range of topics – plotting, dialogue, suspense, description, emotion, scenes, memoir, and editing are a few – and then goes into detail on specific problems she’s seen under each subject, using examples, excerpts from other novels and writers, and references to some of the manuscripts she’s read over the years from students and other hopeful writers. She also includes writing exercises and tips at the end of each chapter.
The way the author explained things made it easier to pick out problems in my own writing. I have these strange, random spells of narcolepsy when reading how-to books. Usually I can be fairly proud of myself if I make it an entire chapter without hearing elevator music and having to put the book down. I chalk it up to a really, really short attention span, and my little problem of being easily distracted by shiny things. To be fair, I’ve never been the best student. 🙂 I did not have that problem with this particular book though. I even had fun reading the preface, where she explains how she got the name “The Angel of Death.” Then in the beginning of chapter one, she refers to herself as “a Demon of Harsh Reality.” Yep, I officially love this book. Anyone who can make me laugh while teaching me something, regardless of how painful those lessons may be, has my vote. 🙂
I picked up another one of her books – Bullies, Bastards, & Bitches: How to Write the Bad Guys in Fiction – because I worry about my poor villains. I really do. They do not yet strike terror into anyone’s heart or linger, shadowy and epic-like, in nightmares. So, as I read, I’ll work on that, and let you know how it goes.
Good luck, and happy writing! 🙂