Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Reading About Writing: The Kick-Ass Writer by Chuck Wendig

What Writing Book Did I Read Last Month?
The Kick-Ass Writer, by Chuck Wendig
The journey to become a successful writer is long, fraught with peril, and filled with difficult questions: How do I write dialogue? How do I build suspense? What should I know about query letters? Where do I start?

The best way to answer these questions is to ditch your uncertainty and transform yourself into a KICK-ASS writer. Chuck Wendig will show you how with an explosive broadside of gritty advice that will destroy your fears, clear the path, and help you find your voice, your story, and your audience.

You'll explore the fundamentals of writing, learn how to obtain publication, and master the skills you need to build an army of dedicated fans. No task is too large or small for the kick-ass writer. With his trademark acerbic wit and gut-punch humor, Wendig will explain:
  • How to build suspense, craft characters, and defeat writer's block.
  • How to write a scene, an ending--even a sentence.
  • Blogging techniques, social media skills, and crowdfunding.
  • How to write a query letter, talk to agents, and deal with failure--and success!
Whether you're just starting out or you need one more push to get you over the top, two things are certain--a kick-ass writer never quits, and Chuck Wendig won't let you down in this high-octane guide to becoming the writer you were born to be!

Why Did I Pick That Book?
I've followed Chuck Wendig's blog, terribleminds, for a while now. You may have noticed that quite of few of the flash fiction pieces I've posted on Sundays have been from his weekly challenges. I've always found his writing posts to be interesting and entertaining, and I tend to agree with most of what he says. So when he announced that he had another writing book coming out, it immediately landed on my TBR.

What Did I Think of It?
As with the other blogs-turned-into-writing-books I've read recently, this book wasn't exactly filled to the brim with new information for me. If you read terribleminds, you've likely seen most of this before. If you don't read terribleminds. . . well, you should remedy that.

All that said, I really liked the way the book was organized and the reading the various essays when put together in order by subject rather than chronologically on the blog brought a new perspective to some of the topics. Chuck Wendig is funny and smart and the book reflects that, so I'd definitely classify it as an enjoyable read.

What Did I Learn from It?
Many, many things. The book is made up of mostly general advice about the craft of writing and the business of publishing. The sections on theme stood out most for me, but that may be because that's a topic I'm dealing with in my own work right now. I suspect I'll be coming back to this book again and again as my career develops and changes, and I'll likely take something new away with me every time.

Wendig offers lots of different ways you can do things and approaches you can take. I really love the way he frames things up, encouraging the reader to choose their own path and also to respect the choices others would make. There is no "One True Way" to be a writer or to get published or whatever your goal is. You have to just take it all in, sort out what resonates for you and what doesn't, and make it your own.

Would I Recommend This Book to Another Writer?
Yes I would. It's a great overhead view of writing and publishing and it offers a lot of information. I feel pretty confident saying it would appeal to writers at many stages along the path to publication. There are bits that don't feel relevant to me anymore and bits that I know I won't have to deal with for quite some time, as well as, of course, things I found very helpful now. I like books that I feel will still be useful to me as things changes.

I will say this though, as a kind of warning: if you're not used to Chuck Wendig's style, you may be in for something of a shock. The language is foul, the jokes are dirty, and the metaphors are often. . . disturbing. If that's not your cup of tea, maybe this book isn't really the right one for you.

Of course, if you're anything like me, that's not so much a warning as another selling point. ;-)

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