Your Writing Coach, From Concept to Character, From Pitch to Publication
By Jurgen Wolff
Nicholas Brealey Publishing, 2007 (London)
248 pages, $19.95 (U.S.) paperback
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Review by Patricia L. Fry
This book is billed as everything you need to know about writing novels, nonfiction, new media, scripts and short stories. That’s quite a promise. But as I read through the book, I became convinced that the author has kept his promise. Wolff, a writer, teacher and the author of five books on script and screenwriting, also writes successfully for television and the stage. So he knows of what he speaks.
This book starts with the basics by helping the reader discover his/her niche and overcome fears that block the writing process. One problem many hopeful freelance writers/authors have is coming up with ideas. Wolff includes a great chapter on how to overcome this block. He thoroughly covers fiction writing and spends quite a bit of time helping readers get into the habit of writing—disciplining oneself, how to deal with small children in the house while writing, etc. He talks about agents and query letters—a must-know for all writers.
I especially enjoyed his list of bestsellers that had been rejected and the statements by the publishers who rejected them. A publisher turned down Dr. Seuss’s And to Think I Saw It on Mulberry Street by stating that it was too different from other books to warrant it selling. After rejecting The Jungle Book, a publisher told Rudyard Kipling, “You just don’t know how to use the English language.”
The most unique aspect of this book is the New Media, New Opportunities section, where Wolff enlightens us about the opportunities for writers via the Web: blogs, podcasts, YouTube, Google Video, etc. If we want to remain in this business over the long haul, we need to gear up for the future.
The strongest aspect of this book is Wolff’s advice on how to break into the writing field, both physically and mentally; and it is rich in the area of fiction with a great section on character development.
–Patricia Fry is President of SPAWN and author of The Right Way to Write, Publish and Sell your Book and How to Write a Successful Book Proposal in 8 Days or Less. Her Web site is http://www.matilijapress.com/.