I also sent off another short story, this time to Orson Scott Card's Intergalatic Medicine Show. (Get well, Orson. Please.)
Ok, on to the review:
The Book on Writing by Paula LaRocque is a very good primer on how to write. It is easy to follow and easy to digest, both are important to aspiring writers. The examples provided are mostly by name authors (Elizabeth George, P.D James, and the Mighty Elmore Leonard to name a few)or newspapermen at the Dallas Morning News. The advice is almost entirely useful.
Chapter 25, the Style Guide alone makes this book worth having. In a few short pages, Paula LaRocque counters some of the most frequently encountered writing shenanigans. She provides excellent examples and definitions of writing concepts, including some that have tripped up big name writers. Her pages on irony are particularly excellent.
There are only two criticisms I can make.
First, the writing advice is a bit too general. This book seems to be aimed at everyone from fiction writers to business writers. So there are chapters that are almost useless to me and many chapters that are almost useless to business writers. Specialization and narrowing her focus would have made this a five star book. But the chapter that don’t apply to me are easily skimmed or skipped on re-read. But if there is any room for improvement, I’d say she should have written this as two volumes, one for fiction writers and one for non-fiction.
Second, Paula LaRocque provides many positive examples of what to do. She also provides several examples of what not to do. For me, personally, the negative examples are counter-productive. They get lodged in my head and threaten to creep out when I write. That’s just how I learn. It’s very possible that other writers will benefit greatly from the negative examples.
Finally, this was a very good work but it wasn’t transcendent. There is lots of good advice but 90% I already knew. At this point, I’m increasingly looking for something new to learn. I did pick up a few tips, the aforementioned 10%, so I’m glad I got this and read it. I think this book is ideal for inexperienced writers. I plan on buying a copy and giving it to my niece.