Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Book Review: 500 More Ways To Be A Better Writer

500 More Ways To Be A Better Writer - Chuck Wendig - 2012

First off, something you should know; I am a big Chuck Wendig fan. I've been mooching around his blog, Terrible Minds, for over a year now and I'm consistently impressed/amused/educated, in equal measure. This means that anything I read of Chuck's is going to be in light of how much I love his site, especially when the book in question is made up of stuff that he posts on the websphere. Combined with enjoying his fiction, I have a big ol' soft spot for him and his works - he's doing a lot of this on his own and is taking the time to share his thoughts with the world. And very useful thoughts they are too. HOWEVER (said in deep booming voice) if you are in any way;
  • Sensitive
  • Easily offended
  • Disapprove of swearing
  • Think that "zany" is overrated
  • Don't like being shouted at
Walk away. Stop reading. This book (and pretty much most of Mr. Wendigs wordage) will not be your thing. Chuck uses wacky imagery, often, goes off on tandems that have nothing to do with what he's saying, and swears an awful lot. This is why I love his stuff. This is why others hate it. Each to their own. But this review will be based on the notion that you, dear reader, also like these things.

This is the fourth in, what I shall here after call, "The Penmonkey Series". There's been 250 Things You Should Know About Writing, 500 Ways To Be A Better Writer, Confessions of a Freelance Penmonkey and Revenge of the Penmonkey. I'd consider all of these part of a series as they all aim to do the same things; to teach the reader about the writing process, writing techniques and what to realistically expect from a writer's life. This latest instalment builds on 500 Ways To Be A Better Writer, by offering more tips on things to do (and not to do) to improve your writing. Topics include; 25 Mistakes To Look For In Your Writing, 25 Things You Should Know About Protagonists, and, my personal favourite, 25 Reasons Writers Are Bug-F**k Nuts. Most of these pieces are available at Terrible Minds as well, but here they're all prettily packaged in one easy to refer to place.

"Hang on - you're saying you can get this stuff for free? Why should I, impoverished, wannabe, writer no. 6749 pay for it?"

Yes, you can get a lot of this stuff for free. In this compilation though you will get articles not available anywhere else, as well as a neat and very funny "who the hell am I to give advice" bit that Chuck includes at the end of the book. But mostly, it's a chance to support a working writer, someone who's out there actually doing this stuff that you, and I (and thousands of others) only dream of. His advice is just that; advice. Though he swears and shouts he isn't seriously ever telling you what must be done - only what you could try, what might work for you. I can vouch for the fact that it works as I've definitely learnt a lot from Mr. Wendig and (in my humble opinion) have seen an improvement in my writing as a result. His delivery is also one of a kind, and it really makes the information he shares stick. More than one comment of his has become something of a mantra in my writing, especially "Finish the shit you start". Such wise words expressed in the most profane ways...

If you want to improve your writing, or if you have any interest in the writing process of others, I highly recommend 500 More Ways To Be A Better Writer. Though it has many predecessors you can jump into this one just fine. I will warn you though - if you like it you'll have no choice but to buy the other books in the series. Otherwise the flying cats with laser eyes will come and get you.*

*Irregular Creatures - Chuck Wendig

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