Spilling Ink

spillinginkWriting Handbooks: I generally don’t like reading them that much. Not because they’re not well-written or instructive – they usually are – but because of the way I feel when I read them (or, truthfully, even think about reading them). Despite this non-preference for writing guides, I generally pick up at least one when I’m at the library, often several. Then, after two renewals, I dutifully return them, largely unread or only hastily glanced through.

You see, I get overwhelmed. There is so much (SO much!) to consider when writing a short story or a novel: plot, description, setting, characterization, dialogue, point of view, pacing, outlining, tone, voice, audience, genre, beginnings, middles, ends, revision…and that’s just the beginning! Then there’s the other half of the writing life: query letters, agents, submissions, publishing…And as if that’s not enough, then you have to actually sit down and write, which is often a gargantuan struggle in itself.

See, overwhelming!

Enter “Spilling Ink: A Young Writer’s Handbook,” by Anne Mazer and Ellen Potter. As suggested by the title, this handbook targets younger audiences – my guess is tweens and teenagers, perhaps even younger ages. However, I prefer to think of the term “young writer” in another sense – as a beginning writer (I started writing with a serious writing intention almost three years ago), I feel that this book is spot on! Just what I needed right now: something breezy, humorous, and encouraging that still delves into the basic elements of writing (although not so much the post-revision process, which is fine by me…).

Even if you’re someone with only a recreational interest in writing, Spilling Ink is a great way to learn more about the basic elements of creative writing.

Although I won’t go into the book in detail, I just have to dish out one quote as a teaser. This quote comes from the section on metaphors and similes (“Shape Shifters,” as the authors call them), and is part of a discussion on how to craft effective metaphors:

“You never know when a cat’s paw is a snow flake, when an old man is an unmatched sock, or when loneliness is a coral reef.” (p.149)

Oh, yeah.

Anne and Ellen: I hope to someday meet you in person, maybe at a writing conference or something – you both seem so delightful and funny!   Oh, and thank you so much for keeping my anxiety level at a minimum and for helping me feel less overwhelmed by the writing process!

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