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265 Troubleshooting Strategies for Writing Nonfiction

265 Troubleshooting Strategies for Writing Nonfiction

By Barbara Fine Clouse

McGraw Hill

178 pages, $14.95

ISBN 0-07-144539-0

Order this book at a great price from Amazon now.

Review by Patricia Fry

Here’s an interesting and useful book for the nonfiction writer. Barbara Clouse, a former college composition instructor and now a teacher of writing teachers, wrote this book with four tasks in mind: prewriting, drafting, revising and editing. Her method is appropriate for creative nonfiction as well as something as mundane as a business letter.

Most writers will appreciate Clouse’s introduction, where she busts some popular myths such as writers are born, not made; writers should wait for inspiration; good writers get it right the first time, and there is only one way to write. She goes on to provide troubleshooting guides for every aspect of producing a nonfiction piece.

If you sometimes have trouble coming up with something to write, thinking of the right word or determining where to put a comma, you’ll find the lessons and examples in this book helpful. I particularly enjoyed learning a few new things from her chapter about choppy writing. She offers some interesting ideas for editing your manuscript. Have you ever used a ruler to find mistakes in your writing? She also suggests having someone read your draft to you because sometimes we hear the mistakes that we don’t see.

This seems to be a handy little book to have in your library no matter what type of writing you do. And it includes an index. Don’t you know that makes me happy? (For those of you who don’t normally read my book reviews in SPAWNews, I often rag on nonfiction authors who neglect to include a good subject index. I guess it’s the researcher in me.)

–Patricia Fry is a full-time freelance writer and the author of 25 books. Read her latest book, The Right Way to Write, Publish and Sell Your Book,

Visit her writing/publishing blog often at



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