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Posted August 9, 2011
The mere fact that Ms. Diamond can say in a comparatively few pages what many authors struggle to confine to three or four hundred pages of "how to write" says it all. Although she downplays her vast experience as a writer and teacher a bit, there is no doubt she gets what the nuts and bolts of writing are and lays it out in a refreshingly straightforward treatment. I have read [and discarded] dozens of "how to write" books; this little gem, however, is a keeper! Read some of her many books and you will quickly learn she knows her stuff. All of her works are a cut above the norm no matter what the genre is. She obviously goes to great lengths to be technically correct as well which I find refreshing.
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Posted September 24, 2011
I have never read a book on how to write that so closely matches my own philosophy about teaching writing. From the well-crafted sentences and economy of prose to the approachable tone that allows readers to get a point quickly--and from the simple way complex ideas are broken down to the easy-to-grasp tips on plot and character development--this small work is a keeper for new writers. And for seasoned writers, this review tool also offers a few new insights. One of the most appealing traits of this text is the humility of the author. "Time after time," she writes, "I had to face my own weaknesses." She gives examples, such as the story of a rejecting editor and the concession, when she first began to write fiction, "I didn't know what I was doing." Ninety novels into print, that's no longer true. But there's something darned appealing about a writing guru sharing tips with such a lack of pretention. Yet she's not entirely self-effacing. She addresses her strengths, too, and encourages writers to acknowledge their own positive and negative writer-attributes so they know what card to play when they're putting together the great card game of their first novel. Several surprises give the reader jolts of insight into the nature of writing and the writer, and my favorite is Jackie's take on a writer's three-yes, three!-brain hemispheres. She calls them tendencies A, B, and C. This section is fresh and insightful, as is the deconstruction of three of her own novels in the back of the manual. I will be recommending this gem to all of my writing students. Louella Nelson, Instructor, University of California, Irvine Extension, novel and short story writing courses. Follow on Twitter @LouellaNelson or WordPress.
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