Thursday, May 17, 2012

First Chapter Review: Help! for Writers by Roy Peter Clark

This is another book that came in right before my life went to hell in a hand basket and my schedule got tossed this way and that like a boat on a stormy ocean. I'm still searching for the calm waters, but I really wanted to dig into this book.

I'm not one who reads a lot of books on the craft of writing. There are a few I would recommend if asked, but overall, I find many of them dull and repetitive. This isn't one of those dull ones.

BLURB: The craft of writing offers countless potential problems: The story is too long; the story's too short; revising presents a huge hurdle; writer's block is rearing its ugly head.

In HELP! FOR WRITERS, Roy Peter Clark presents an "owner's manual" for writers, outlining the seven steps of the writing process, and addressing the 21 most urgent problems that writers face. In his trademark engaging and entertaining style, Clark offers ten short solutions to each problem. Out of ideas? Read posters, billboards, and graffiti. Can't bear to edit yourself? Watch the deleted scenes feature of a DVD, and ask yourself why those scenes were left on the cutting-room floor. HELP! FOR WRITERS offers 210 strategies to guide writers to success.

COVER: Clever. Simple. The large white exclamation point makes you think of urgency or emergency, as the case may be. It definitely captures your attention.

FIRST CHAPTER: This book is set up a bit differently than some others, with each section being about a particular step. In the opening chapters, it is aptly about getting started. The first step covers three chapters. I am only using the first chapter as the basis of my review.

Chapter One is about finding story ideas. It provides practical advice on how writers can create stories based upon daily experiences. Spend a morning in a bagel shop. Read a book that is unfamiliar to you. Break your routine. Interview the oldest person and youngest person you know. There are others, but you get the drift. This chapter encourages writers to look for the hidden smaller stories in the larger flashier ones.

KEEP READING:  You betcha. The subtitle makes the book seem overwhelming: "210 Solutions to the Problems Every Writers Faces." Either that or it makes it sound loaded with helpful advice--which it definitely has. I almost didn't request to review this one solely because of the subtitle. Silly, I know, but at least I'm honest.

Clark has a nice style. He combines his years of experience with a casual feel that is encouraging. What's not to like about a guy whose internal thoughts of himself as a teenager are, "You're just a clumsy little a**hole."

With this book, I tackled the Introduction first, followed by How to get Help!, which is basically an author's note. This gave me insight into what to expect from the book and I liked what I read. I'm looking forward to reading the rest of this book on vacation.

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown and Company; 1 edition (September 21, 2011)
  • ISBN-10: 0316126713
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316126717
  • SRP: $22.99
  •  Also available for Kindle

  • I received a free hardcover of this book from Hachette Group in exchange for my honest opinion. A full review will follow. I received no monetary compensation for this review.

    1 comment:

    Patty Woodland said...

    Sounds like a great asset in a writer's library