Review: On Becoming a Writer

Some time ago I promised that as I had read so many books on writing that I would have a go at reviewing some of them on this site.  The idea was that by sharing my experiences of the good books others could avoid the bad.

Of course since I wrote that promise I have had a P.E., a lengthy hospital stay and a large dose of pneumonia.  These events kind of disrupted my plans…but no more!

In starting this review process I looked for a good candidate that offered the best starting point and I really think I found it.

Becoming a Writer

Becoming a Writer

I think it is true to say this is the single best book on writing I own and has definitely been the most practical use as a beginning writer.

This book was written before all the current trends for political correctness (1934) and offers helpful, pithy advice to a writer that is starting out.  It is because of the books succinct, direct style that I recommend it without reservation.

The printing I received is a small book of a mere 192 pages, yet it is packed with useful information.  Ms Brande shows a great understanding of the psychology of writers and puts that knowledge to use in a friendly, but strict manner.  I truly regret that I will never get to meet her, or attend a writing class of hers.

Amongst the good news the book offers is the fact that anyone can become a writer, it is just that we have varying degrees of ability.  This fact must surely come as a delight to anyone that has been told that being a writer is somehow an innate ability and make the book worthy of purchase on its own.

It needs to be realised that the book is not about the mechanics of writing.  There are a great many books that are about plot, character, English usage etc. and I will be reviewing some of them over later weeks.  This is book is, as the title states, the process of becoming a writer.

I won’t spoil the book by commenting further on Ms Brande’s advice, except to say that it is most worthwhile following the advice she gives and performing the exercises.  Don’t buy this book if you tend to read a self help book and then leave it on the shelf.  Ms Brande would not approve!

If you are a writer wannabe, like me, buy this book!

Becoming a Writer

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4 Responses to Review: On Becoming a Writer

  1. John Schmidt says:

    “On a long journey carry typewriter paper…”

    I have an interest in how writers use modern technology.

    “Be your own best friend and severest critic”

    I wonder if our digital tools can transform writing into a more collaborative activity.

  2. Dave says:

    Hahaha ok so some of the advice is dated, but then she didn’t write SF! ;)

    The rest of what I said holds: The advice she gives is brilliant.

    Most of what I write at the moment is on a laptop, so I guess modern technology is affecting me. But more collaborative? For some I don’t doubt it would work, but not for all. Look on the bookshelves and see how many books are co-authored I guess. Not many.

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