Since The Famous Author discovered that commercial fiction used techniques unassociated with newspaper writing--this after thirty years and eight unpublished novels--my boss has been a student of the craft. Or at least he's collected a lot of books on the subject.
Yesterday we heard of a must new addition, MANUSCRIPT MAKEOVER by one of TFA's mentors, Elizabeth Lyon. The book is subtitled, Revision Techniques No Fiction Writer Can Afford to Ignore, but don't think you need to HAVE a manuscript before you can use Elizabeth's wisdom. Any fiction writer can learn from what's inside this puppy:
* Stand-out style techniques, from accessing an authentic voice, “wordsmithing” that transforms prose
* Techniques to guarantee depth, dimensionality, and originality of characterization
* Strategies to strengthen story beginnings and endings
* Methods for increasing plot stakes, creating movement, and adjusting pace for maximum suspense
* Rules for grammar, punctuation, spelling, and format
* Model queries and tips for securing literary agent and editor attention
* Detailed revision checklists at every chapter’s end for easy reference
* Exemplary excerpts drawn from nearly every genre of writing and for every age level of reader, and representing contemporary and classic literature to show exactly how to revise well.
That last item reminds me of my duties. From the full disclosure department, located right next door to the 'splaining department: Among the 100 excerpts, MANUSCRIPT MAKEOVER just happens to have exemplary models of craft from authors Susan Baker, Jennifer Cruse, JACK GETZE (AKA-TFA), Chris Goff, Susan Goodwill, Trish MacGregor, and Gary Provost, all of Writers Retreat Workshop.
MANUSCRIPT MAKEOVER (Perigee Trade Paperback; April 1, 2008; $14.95) gives writers 368 pages of instruction on creating stories to stand out from the competition and attract the eyes of agents and editors.
The blurb is true, you writers out there. Under years of Elizabeth's mentoring, including one memorable, four-writer trip to Mexico, TFA finally discovered his "voice." Namely me. My boss owes Elizabeth plenty, for sure, but I think Ms. Lyon helped bring me to life. And while TFA is still a little pissed over that Don Quixote statue Elizabeth gave him in Mexico, I think personally it helped motivate him. Rock on, Elizabeth. Every would-be novelist should have you among their mentors.
Clicking on today's headline, THE CRAFT OF FICTION, takes you to www.manuscriptmakeover.com where you can learn more about, or order, Elizabeth Lyon's book from online booksellers.