Write with Fire by Charles Allen Gramlich
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This is a partial recycle, since I originally blogged about this book shortly after it came out. That was like eight years ago, though, so most folks reading my blog now probably haven't seen it. If anyone cares, Charles and I have been commenting on each other's blogs for coming up on ten years now. We're friends, more than "Facebook" type friends, but less than people who know each other in realspace, or even e-mail regularly. I like him a lot, but anyone who knows me knows that I never bullshit about writing, so my review of his book (or the book of any other writer I know) is what I actually think, untainted by the delicacies of personal admiration or friendship.
So You Want to Be a Writer
Writer's Block No More
Tipping the Odds in Your Favor
Writing with Purpose
Don't Talk, Write!
Writing with Confidence
Five Habits of Publishing Writers
Quick Versus Slow Suspense
Six Steps to Creating Suspense
The Mechanics of Suspense
Creating Sympathetic Characters
Characters: The Best and the Rest
Writing Your Past for Fun and Profit'
The First Rule of Endings
The Curse of the Lazy Ending
Endings: What's at Stake
The Physical Side of Writing
One Way to Put a Style Together
Writing for Excess (with "Barbarian's Bane")
Writing with Attitude
Selling and Reselling (with "To the Point")
The Working Man's Curse
Punctuate It and Forget It!
A Grammar Primer
Rewrite, Rewrite, Rewrite
Before You Submit, Don't Forget
Page-Turners: What Makes Them, What Breaks Them
In Praise of the Net
Blogging: Pros and Cons
Pro Versus Amateur
Expand Your Mind
Fun with Fear
Horror Writers: The Crazy Truth
The Horror Lists
An Error in Detail
Ernest Hemingway: A Writer's Life and Death
Jack London: Two-Fisted Writer
Ken Bulmer: Death in the Family
Where Have All the Good Themes Gone?
What the Writer Wants
Rest in Peach: Short Story
Five Years Down the Road
A Writer on the Run
Readin', Writin' and Me
Death by Prose
Fiends by Torchlight Introduction
About My Novels
This book is a stack of essays collected together into a book. I enjoy reading this kind of writing book, because it feels like sitting down with another writer and listening to them talk shop. "This is important, and this is useful, and oh, this funny thing happened to me, and here's what I learned from it. And whatever you do, do not do this, because this is what happened when I did it and it wasn't fun at all...." That kind of thing.
So while there's an essay entitled "Creating Sympathetic Characters" which is about what you'd expect it to be about, there's also one called "The Workingman's Curse," which discusses writing around a day job and how to cope when everything goes pear-shaped.
I highly recommend the latter essay, by the way, for its entertainment value as well as any actual lessons to be learned. He lists the events of one particular week when he got no writing done at all because of an ever-growing series of crises and calamities, and I have to admit I was LOLing by the end of it -- poor Charles must have desecrated a shrine or something, seriously. :D
There are discussions on punctuation and getting started and work habits, which are fairly typical of writing books, and sections on blogging and criticism and keeping hydrated, which are less so. And the whole thing is written in the very clear and readable style I've come to know while following Charles's Blog for the last ten years. I highly recommend this book to everyone, those who've been at it a while as well as those who are just starting out.
The one thing to wish for here is an electronic version -- the book is only available in paperback, which is an issue for some. This is definitely worth a read, though, even if you're not usually into books made of dead trees.