In the three decades that I’ve been writing I’ve read many books about the craft. While the books which help me structure my work or write convincing dialogue are useful, I prefer those which give me some insight into how real writers think and feel about their work.
Ever since it was first published in the 1980s, I’ve delighted in Taking Reality By Surprise, which was edited by Susan Sellers. It’s full of first-hand accounts of how real writers—published and unpublished—write and work. I’ve bought many copies over the years and have given several away: the others I’ve just worn out. It’s a dated now, but it is still wonderful. And now I’ve found a new book which rivals it, and which promises to last me another twenty years.
The New Writer’s Handbook (Volume 2), from Scarletta Press, contains over sixty essays on writing, publication, and the writing life, across all genres and media, written by people who know what they’re doing. I’ve been reading it for days now, dipping in and out of the various sections with increasing delight. There are articles about writing fiction and nonfiction, journalism and autobiography; pitching and marketing your work; the business side of writing; and pieces which analyze and encourage creativity and motivation.
There is a useful article about multiple submissions by A C Crispin of Writer Beware, and an article about short story writing by Stephen Moran, which first appeared on the Willesden Herald blog (and which I linked to a little while ago, here). There’s some excellent advice about how to use tension and conflict in writing by best-selling author Tess Gerritsen; and a lovely little observation about writing even when you think you can’t, from Kirby Larson. While not all of the contributors have names I recognized, all of them have something valuable to say: there’s not a single weak piece in the whole collection, and each time I reread it, I discover something new.
It’s a fabulous book, and I recommend it very highly. Treat yourself to a copy now. You won’t be sorry.