Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Writing with the Master by Tony Vanderwarker

Can you imagine having John Grisham offer to look at your book and give you suggestions on how to write it?  I can't, but Mr. Vanderwarker was friends with him and had trouble getting published.  He was thrilled!

Skyhorse Publishing sent me a copy of this book to read for review (thank you).  It has been published and you can get a copy at your local bookstore now.  The subtitle of the book is:  How One of the World's Bestselling Authors Fixed My Book and Changed My Life. I think it's safe to say that Mr. Grisham changed his life...

Mr. Grisham had him begin with outlines.  He had to keep re-working his outlines because he was trying to cover too much or talking about issues that really didn't matter.  Once Mr. Vanderwarker conquered the outline well enough to go on, he started on drafts of the story.  He wasn't expecting to have to rewrite it as many times as he did.  He also didn't expect to see sections of the story get the ax.

The aspiring writer got a lot of good hints on writing from the established author.  I found it interesting that Mr. Grisham was fixated on character names.  The "Show, Don't Tell" rule shows up all over Twitter as a guide on how to write better, so that was no surprise to me.  I also enjoyed seeing the marked up pages with Mr. Grisham's notes.  

Each book is your own work and you have to do what works for you.  Having the expertise of someone who has published several books is very valuable.  This process was pretty painful for Mr. Vanderwarker, and his lack of success at selling the book helped him start a new career.  But he never gave up totally.

You have to be in the right place at the right time to sell your book.  After the first one, it can get a bit easier.  Skyhorse publishing took the story of the mentorship on and now is looking at his other books.  There's hope for him as an author yet.  And, guess what?  He never uses an outline anymore.  I don't either.

If you're a writer, you might appreciate some of the advice in this book from Mr. Grisham, too.  Why not give it a read?

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