Thursday, October 30, 2008

Review of the New Writer's Handbook Volume 2

Title: The New Writer's Handbook Volume 2
Editor: Philip Martin
Genre: Non-fiction
Price: $16.95
Publisher: Scarletta Press
ISBN: 9780979624920

The New Writer's Handbook V2 is a collection of 65 pieces described as articles but more along the lines of short essays, or high quality blog posts--which is indeed how most of them started out before being tidied up and reprinted here. That said, the contributors all know whereof they speak, express themselves well and have something to say. Each article tends to be very brief and make one well-argued point, although a few are longer and more complexly argued. For the most part, points well worth making and of potential interest to all new and a good many not-so-new writers.

The book is broken up into the sections of motivation, craft, pitches, marketing, business, and a more mixed section for sundry other issues. The articles include some 'usual suspects' such as first versus third person and show versus tell. Others are more fresh. I particularly enjoyed Diana Glyer's piece on the writing group Tolkein and CS Lewis were in with some information about the earlier drafts of Lord of the Rings. Several other essays gave me ideas I intend to try out. A few made declarative statements that struck me as the useless tiresome over-generalisation (how I write versus how everyone must write). Even the articles that didn't impart great wisdom was entertaining. I read the whole book in one 90 minutes plane trip and found it hugely engaging. I expect tp refer back to it often.

One should not read this book expecting some kind of comprehensive guide to writing for publication. But as the editor's afterword reminds us, no such thing can really be expected to exist. Philip Martin writes: "The problem with advice: it can be overwhelming, endless, repetitive, contradictory, sometimes stretched paper-thin, and often comes from someone who wants to sell you their services." The first task of an author to to learn how to process and use advice without being too credulous or too dismissive. And the first step is to seek advice from those most qualified to help you, and least likely to scam you--and that is exactly what the handbook provides.

Rating: 9/10
Reviewer: Emily Veinglory

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