Do Not Ignore this Book

Manuscript Makeover: Revision Techniques No Fiction Writer Can Afford to IgnoreManuscript Makeover: Revision Techniques No Fiction Writer Can Afford to Ignore by Elizabeth Lyon
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I rarely give five star ratings, but this book is just that good. It’s not necessarily life-changing or . . . maybe it is, at least for this writer.

As it’s subtitle says, the techniques outlined are techniques that shouldn’t be ignored, although they aren’t new and you’ve probably encountered them in any number of writing books or classes. But, what Lyon gives you is a compact reference for improving writing, for deepening characterization, structure, plot, etc. She also touches on copy editing and marketing, because, as we know from Dr. Johnson, none but a blockhead writes for fun.

Lyon suggests techniques such as “riff-writing” that I, at least, was unaware of. “Riff-writing” is a version of free writing directed at a particular sentence or paragraph in a finished draft of a work. It allows the writer to play, to give depth and breadth to a particular piece of writing. She also suggests common techniques such as imitating other writers to help “see” style, and to help loosen the inner editor and stave off the inner critic when drafting.

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King Rat by China Mieville

King RatKing Rat by China MiƩville
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A clever revisionist vision of the Pied Piper story. It reminds me of John Gardner’s retelling of Beowulf through the eyes of the monster, Grendel. It makes me wonder what makes Gardner’s novel Grendel “literary” and this novel “fantasy”? I’m sure it’s a question Mieville himself would ask in his quest to abolish genre as a rigid category.

Mieville’s such a unique visionary. At the same time, this novel reads like a superhero novel that begs a sequel.

Still, it’s brilliantly done.

‘Nuff said.

Todd

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