Monday, December 7, 2009

The Art of War for Writers by James Scott Bell

As I've said before, I love books on writing and one of my favorite "how-to" authors is James Scott Bell. So naturally, when his latest book on writing came out earlier this month, I just had to have it. The Art of War for Writers didn't disappoint either. Divided into three sections, there are tactics and strategies for writers of all levels from the newest novice to the grizzled veteran.

Section 1, Reconnaissance, gets us into the right mental frame of mind with pointers on discipline, self-motivation and putting one's heart into their writing along with admonitions against worry, desperation and fear.

Section 2, Tactics, starts by encouraging us not to settle for "mere fiction" then gives us the tools needed to take our own writing to the next level. From "write hard, write fast" and "edit slow, edit tough" to "utilize the Q factor" you'll find tips and techniques for dealing with dialogue, backstory, characters, pacing exposition and the all important starting point.
Section 3, Strategy, guides us through the day to day, business side of writing. Practical tips include goal setting (which I plan to put into practice real soon), when to start the agent hunt and how to get the best results. I especially appreciate his advice on query letters and the synopsis.

The Art of War for Writers is stuffed full of great advice and I see myself returning to its pages again and again. And while I say this is one for the keeper shelf, I have the feeling it won't be spending much time on the shelf.

You can download a free sample of The Art of War for Writers here.  I found my copy at Books a Million but you can also purchase online with Amazon.


  1. Thanks, Jean, for the very kind words. I'm glad you find it helpful, as that's exactly why I wrote it. Appreciate the mention.

  2. This sounds like a great book. I'll definitely check it out.