Book Review: About Writing: The Authorised Field Guide for Aspiring Authors

About Writing by Gareth L. Powell.
My rating: 5 of 5 stars.

In the late noughties, I used to converse on Twitter with a chap called Gareth L. Powell. We were both budding writers back in the day, and I can’t really remember how I met him, but we somehow lost touch during one of my many hiatuses from Twitter. I recently discovered that it’s possible to search historic Tweets, and quite by accident spotted his name cropping up in lots of replies. Imagine my surprise and pleasure when I discovered he is now a successful science fiction author.

While browsing through his website, I discovered he had written a book about writing, and I decided to buy a copy of the Kindle edition, which was about to be released. When the date finally arrived, I imagined myself being first in line in the Amazon queue, and started reading immediately.

About Writing is a great collection of tips from an established author who has published many novels and short stories over the last decade. Some of them are quite inspiring, and I hope to put more than a few into practice with my own writing. One that immediately jumps to mind is his ’55 Story Ideas’ approach. I love that.

I don’t see About Writing as a ‘how to…’ manual. Instead, it’s more like having a friend you can nudge when you’re feeling stuck in some way. The clue is in the title: it’s a field guide for aspiring authors. In the same way you might consult a field guide to British birds when you spot a specimen you don’t recognise, you can dip in and out of About Writing whenever you need a helping hand. The book is easily digestible, nicely structured with short sections that allow you to quickly dive into a particular area of writing or publishing. I read it from cover to cover, but it’s not necessary to do that.

Writers who regularly feel they need a bit of support along their journey will benefit from this guide. I certainly feel I’ve picked up a few handy tools, and have learnt a few things I didn’t know about the business of publishing. I highly recommend it.

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