Most helpful positive review
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Concise, focused - most useful "how to write" book I have read in a long time
on 16 November 2012
This brief (novella length) e-Book has to be the most useful "how to write" book I have read in a long time. Written by fantasy author Rachel Aaron, it is clear, straightforward and pretty easy to follow as a writing method. Having struggled to wrangle the first draft of my first novel into shape all I can say is I wish I had read it before I started writing... but I'm glad I have now read it before commencing another novel!
The author shows how she went from writing 2k to 10k words a day while producing a five volume fantasy epic. Part 1 focuses on the triangle of knowledge, time and enthusiasm. While the word-count levels Rachel achieves sounded high to me initially the book reveals the amount of preparation, planning and working out that goes in beforehand - knowledge of what one will write. These are word counts while actually writing the novel rather than something achieved every day. That is not to diminish what she achieves but to highlight that her method is to be well-prepared by working out plot outline, character sketches, time-line and setting before starting to write. This approach avoids meandering off and ensures focus while writing. Good time management supports this, as does enthusiasm - if the writer is not enjoying what they are writing why are they doing it? What is the likelihood their readers will enjoy the final product?
Part 2 is longer and gives a chapter by chapter focus on the topics of plot, characters who write their own story, structure, making each scene count and, finally, editing. Each chapter gave me ideas on how better to approach my next writing project. How to edit more effectively also gives me hope for also being able to salvage my first novel!
Rachel Aaron's method is very structured throughout so may not appeal to all writers. In the chapter looking at the three act structure she refers to herself as a "story architect" (rather than a "whimsical artist"). However, even those looking for a looser approach will, I believe, find value in this book, if not during the story creation then during the editing stage.
It is nice to see that the author is also an advocate of Scrivener, my favourite writing tool. She provides some tips to use it more effectively within her method. For me, it has changed how I use the outliner mode to make use of chapter word counts and the synopsis feature as a scene map.
At an Amazon UK price of just 77 pence (or 99 cents in US) this e-book is ridiculously cheap - if you own a Kindle and want to write (any genre not just fantasy and SF) then I strongly recommend it.