Tuesday, July 14, 2009

A Guidebook for Writers: THE ELEMENTS OF STORY

Writing is undoubtedly hard, but to glean knowledge from a reference book on how to write and to keep your reader captivated with your words can sometimes be even harder. The bulk of writing books address grammar, style, and other line-by-line topics. Francis Flaherty believes that complex, story-level concerns—how to make a story move and how to use description to buttress your theme—pose equally common and far more formidable problems for writers.

In the spirit of The Elements of Style, and drawn from Flaherty’s long experience as an editor at the New York Times, the highly entertaining The Elements of Story: Field Notes on Nonfiction Writing shows how Times articles read the way they do, presenting 50 secrets of successful narratives. “Sometimes, say things sideways,” Flaherty writes, “the reader will be grateful.” “White is whitest on black,” he observes, “let contrast work for you.” Through these and other hard-won story-level insights, sprinkled with examples from real stories and leavened with a good dose of newsroom memoir, The Elements of Story fills a large gap in the long shelf of writing books.

"This is a splendid book for journalists (new or old), fiction writers, essayists, and critics. But it could also be of great use to the intelligent common reader, the man or woman who wonders why it's impossible to finish reading certain stories and why others carry the reader in a vivid rush to the end. I learned something about the difficult craft of writing on almost every page."--Pete Hamill

1 comment: