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Customer Review

61 of 72 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not all that..., 31 May 2008
This review is from: Wannabe a Writer? (Secrets to Success) (Paperback)
First off, credit where credit's due. The first third of the book (around 100 pages) that deals with planning, motivation, how to generate ideas, and that feeling all beginners get of "where the hell do I start?" is excellent. Indeed, it is very comforting to discover that many writers (even accomplished ones) are in the same boat when it comes to dealing with the dreaded writers block, finding things to write about, research, and a myriad of other problems that a writer must overcome to succeed. The author does a good job in making you realise this.

However...

Once you move into the middle part, the book seems to take on a whole new agenda. The author develops a penchant for RELENTLESSLY plugging her other books at every given opportunity. I guess this is fairly amusing for the first few instances, until it becomes apparent that she frequently makes reference to almost everything she's ever written, why you should read it, and where it is available to purchase etc.

You also get the impression that her relationship with the books external contributors (i.e. friends, fellow writers, agents, publishers, and general contacts) amounts to nothing more than a matey (I'll scratch your back if you scratch mine') love-in that becomes increasingly nauseating from the readers point of view. It's as if the author has agreed to advertise work of these contributors in exchange for their (often not so enlightening) tips and advice, whilst singing their praises from the rafters and telling the reader what great work he/she has accomplished (followed by the inevitable plugging of their books, magazine columns and websites etc).

She contradicts herself when advising that a writer shouldn't harbour any notion of having a `proper job', yet towards the end changes tack to declare (something along the lines of) that writing is a mugs game, there's only a very slim chance of making a living from it, and it's probably best to stick to the day job. This is fine if the author is being honest and realistic- but why divulge the former advice in the first place? Isn't this going against the purpose of the book? Such advice could prove be very discouraging and disheartening (not to myself I must add) to anyone just starting out who `wannabe a writer'.

All of the above distracts from the main purpose of the book- how to become a writer. You also really begin to question the motives of the author, who in the first part of the book appears to be so genuine and full of helpful advice, but then seems become more self-indulgent and concerned with stoking the egos of her buddies in the publishing world.

This is a shame...

In summing up, I would recommend this book, for the sole reason that it's one of the few books (on the subject of creative writing) that's written in a humorous witty manner, to which the aspiring writer can identify. However, I cannot attribute anymore than the 3 stars given due to the reasons I've specified, together with the fact that other forms of creative writing (other than the novel) are sparsely covered, and meant to inject more humour into the proceedings as opposed to being helpful in any way (see TV/film scripts, plays, short stories and memoir sections for example).

If I was to recommend a book which I consider to be the `bible' on the subject of creative writing (and believe me I've read quite a few of them!), it would have to be `On Writing' by Stephen King, which I've just finished.
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Showing 1-1 of 1 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 20 Jan 2010 12:29:56 GMT
Little Ethel says:
A fair and honest review.
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