[Book Review] A pep talk and hug from Patricia C. Wrede

Wrede on Writing: Tips, Hints, and Opinions on Writing by Patricia C. Wrede

“What matters is that when you are finished, you have a good story, however you managed to get there.” (Wrede on Writing)

You know this author. You know her because of all the awesome:.

Dealing with Dragons (Enchanted Forest Chronicles, #1) 64207 245727 5797595

And now she has a book out that distills over thirty  years of writing wisdom into 246 pages covering basics from what it means to get an idea for a novel to the eternal question that plagues writers around the country – should you have a dedicated writing office, or write on all and any available and relatively flat surface up to and including relatives and large animals? In small, short vignettes, the book covers a miscellany of writer-relevant topics in a ‘there’s no one right way to write’ kind of way.

The book is set up in three sections: the bare-bone basics of writing (outlining, what point of view is, tense, narration, the works), the more advanced basics (using flashbacks, writing conflict, ending the darn book, beginning it…), and the practical, financial and operational basics of being an author. 

I love Wrede for diving into this third, murky realm. What do an author’s finances look like? What do you need to do to keep from starving? Backlist books what? Why and how do you get an agent? What is an editor supposed to do? Advance or royalties? Write more or publicity now?

A lot of what Wrede talks about is descriptive, not prescriptive. If you’ve been around the writing and editing block a few times, the first section will probably be redundant, the second a nice review, and the third a treasure trove. If you’re just diving into the world of writing, this is a book filled with goodies.

You won’t come away from this little book with a formula for success, because there is none. But I love this practical and realistic take on a lot of the issues writers face as they make their way from blank sheet to first draft to bookstore shelf.

Favorite passage, on writing blocks:

“Yet somehow, writers have pulled off one of the greatest marketing coups ever: they have convinced everyone that if they are not-writing, they must have “writer’s block” and are therefore to be offered tea and cookies and sympathy and support. If a bank teller or accountant tried to claim they couldn’t work today because they had a paperwork block, everyone would laugh.” (Wrede on Writing)

And yep, reading this book definitely feels like getting a hug from Patricia C. Wrede. I’m not even an author, but now I just want to sit down and bang out a novel!

Thanks to Diversion Books for the review copy.


A few other gift ideas for the writer in your life:

  • On Writing by Stephen King – Part memoir, part expose on writing and getting published, this is a great pick for both writers and Stephen King fans who just might decide to write something one day.
  • Steering the Craft: Exercises and Discussions on Story Writing for the Lone Navigator or the Mutinous Crew by Ursula K. Le Guin – In this book, you get writing exercise folded into motivational encouragement, toasted with a crispy coating of fun. Steering the Craft is enjoyable, positive, and hands on.
  • The Elements of Style by William Strunk Jr. – This book does the exact opposite of Wrede on Writing and tells you in no nonsense terms what exactly you should and shouldn’t do as a writer. Perfect pick for the hipster writer friend next door.

Chirp! What do you think?

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