Saturday, June 25, 2011

Saturday Solicitation: How I Write by Janet Evanovich

This Saturday Solicitation is devoted to Janet Evanovich's How I Write. It is co-authored by Ina Yalof and Alex Evanovich. It differs dramatically from King's On Writing, which I reviewed earlier, in advice, pacing, and format. I read How I Write in one sitting, over about 3 hours. It isn't terribly long, but I usually find non-fiction reading a labor intensive project akin to my college days pushing textbooks. Mrs. Evanovich's style of writing definitely aided the fast reading pace. She is witty, quick to the point, and genuine. I will admit that I have never read an Evanovich book, as I am not a romance reader and I stopped reading mysteries with Nancy Drew many summers ago. Even though I dislike a small portion of How I Write, the personal discourse of it makes me think I should pick up one of the Plum books. We'll see.
The book is full of the same information as all other writing books. Check the table of contents when you look up the book and you'll find creating characters, writing mechanics, structure, and editing. This book also includes a pretty hard nosed looked at getting published. It is finished off with words of encouragement, an inside look at Mrs. Evanovich's writing life, and reprinted examples of items found throughout the book. None of the information is new. If you look, you'll find every bit of the information free online. However, the presentation of the material makes for a pleasant reading experience. She advocates a sort of minimalistic outlining and character profiles, but it works for her so I won't judge. Something I found hilarious: While King outright suggests that aspiring writers blow up their televisions and read a damn book, Mrs. Evanovich actually suggests watching television or a movie to help stimulate creativity. Different minds.
What I like about this book: First of all, the presentation of How I Write is great. King's On Writing reads like a textbook. It makes sense when you realize he has a degree to teach English. Mrs. Evanovich does not have a degree in English or writing or what-have-you. She started as an artist and moved on to writing. This book is presented in choppy sections that consist of blurbs of information and question and answer segments drawn directly from the author's website over the years. She offers great advice for those that want to be a writer: you either ARE a writer, or you are NOT a writer. Pick your role and play the part. I like that. It is very honest. A lot of her advice is the same advice found elsewhere, but that is because it is solid. Write every day. Make writing your job. Get over the blank page. It was interesting to read that she doesn't believe in writer's block.
What I didn't like about this book: I took exception to one part of this book. Included in the publishing section is a small bit about self-publishing. Mrs. Evanovich is not exactly subtle in her disdain for those that choose to self-publish. Granted, this book was published in 2006, well before self-publishing and eBooks started becoming so popular. In 2011, I wonder if her comments still stand.

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