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DELAMAR WEB
Reviews: Books about Writing
Book Reviews:
   Conventional Book Reviews   (standard commentary/review of book) 
  Knothole Book Reviews   (a "knothole review" is "not whole"-- 
       the concept is to give insights into an author's style, craft, and knowledge through selected excerpts.) 
 The Writer's Digest Writing Clinic 
Kelly Nickell, Editor
Cincinnati: Writer's Digest Books, 2003 

This book helps you look at your work as an editor or agent would. The book uses excerpts from thirty-six manuscripts for examples, showing errors and corrections. In addition, the book tells how to establish and function within writing groups.

FICTION: 
“A good opening hook  . . . creates a strong emotional bond between the readers and the central character.”

“Readers must be able to orient themselves and see the scene from a definite vantage point. The trick is to get inside your character's head . . . Accomplishing this keeps the author on course with her viewpoint character and allows the readers to share in the character's experiences. “

“Writing in your point of view character's voice . . . lets your reader see the world as your character sees it. Showing rather than telling is the essence of fiction. Readers must be able to experience a story through the senses and perceptions of the protagonist.” 

“Using some exposition is understandable . . . but readers . . . don't need to have it all delivered through straight exposition. . . . You can also recast some exposition as interior monologue. A little bit of dialogue can tell readers as much . . . as half a page of exposition.”

“One way to end more mundane scenes is to use an image or an exchange of dialogue that summarizes or typifies the main emotion of the scene. . . . the punch line is at the end.”

POETRY: 
Revising poetry mandates precision of craft, a respect for duality, and an intimate understanding of the ebb and flow of language. The final lines should fulfill the promise of the title.”

“Before you begin to edit a poem, look first for its heart. What is the author really writing about? What is she really trying to say?”

NONFICTION: 
“Revising and critiquing nonfiction requires attentive-
ness to structure as well as content. When you are writing a memoir, it's important to ask yourself what your life has been about. In the first chapter of a mem- oir, you need to . . . 1) introduce the main characters, 
2) establish the story's emotion, 3) show readers the setting, 4) create suspense, and 5) move readers into the main conflict. The goal at the end of each chapter is always the same--to pull the readers into the next.” 

“The most difficult part of writing humor is sustaining it from beginning to end. The key . . . is to pump up the humor so that the ‘message’ doesn't dilute the story and make it serious.” 

QUERY LETTERS: 
The goal of the query letter is to present an article or book topic in a clear and concise manner. The opening sentence . . . should . . . get an editor's attention. That single page may be the most important piece of writing you'll ever do. Tell what the book is about. If you have specialized knowledge . . . say so. . . . publishing credits, mention them . . . offer to send either a sample chapter and synopsis, or the full manuscript. Finally . . . establish that there are people who will buy your book. 

--excerpted by Gloria T. Delamar 

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