Friday, January 4, 2008

Book Review: Craft & Technique, by Paul Raymond Martin

Writers can be a lonely group of people. If we're not writing, we're editing. If we're not editing, we might be off somewhere stewing over our next plot line or chapter.

Then again, some of us would like to be like that. For those of us who are mothers or fathers, there are other daily demands. You know the kind - important things like a job or putting food on the table or helping a child with their homework.

It can make "being a writer" a bit of a challenge. That is why I find certain writers' books so helpful. They boil down the most essential elements of writing, so that when I actually sit at the computer TO write, I'm more effective.

Craft & Technique, by Paul Raymond Martin, is one such book. I love this book. It is the one I reach for most often. If I'm in a writing bind, I reach for this book. If I'm taking a break, I reach for this book. It is that good.

At first glance, this little 3 1/2" x 5" book might not seem like much. But oh what impact it carries! The cover of the book states that Craft & Technique "includes more than 300 aphorisms and insights." And it is precisely its pithy quotes I love. For example:

"Think of your writing as a house before moving day. You have to get rid of the clutter."

"Interest Level equals Word Count divided by New Information."

"Writers write long when they haven't taken the time to write short" (p. 4).

The author includes savvy advice in all six chapters: Characterization; Dialogue; Plot; Fiction Techniques; Style; and Voice. Each chapter is equally as refined and potent.

I'm a mother. It's hard to find writing time. Even harder to find time to study what makes great writing. Is it any wonder then that in my house this book is dog-eared and well-used?

Writers might be a lonely group of people, but we also are very busy people. If you need a great book that's a quick read, Craft & Technique is just the thing. Not only will your writing improve from studying it, but you'll enjoy the experience (in the brief snatches of time you might have).

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