I did not know Gillian Roberts as an author but had the fortunate encounter with her few months back. I bought this book after her talk in the Philadelphia Writers' Conference. This book proved my belief she is a very good teacher of fiction. To begin with, the book is only 124 pages (including an index). As I open the book now to write this review, I find lines highlighted on practically every page. The first chapter gives us fifteen commandments. Since I finished the book every day I open it and briefly go through them. I loved the three like 'thou shalt begin and keep going till you're through. Thou shalt write for yourself, not the market and thou shalt not wait for visits from the muse.' In the second chapter you've 7 Cs: Character, Conflict, Causality, Complications, Change, Crisis, Closure. She writes all the ingredients that we need. How to get ideas is another eye opening chapter. I knew it is important to develop characters in any genre but the way G Roberts guides us through character development is not only thorough but entertaining. The rest of the book has the usual ingredients like setting (physical as well as emotional), points of view, using five senses, back story, flashbacks. I particularly liked the page on building the plot with false leads. Then we hear: Tell yourself your story often. Interaction with others is dramatic and provides tension. It can be useful to think in terms of stage and screen. Another important chapter is "What you don't know." This is about developing credibility to your setting and characters. I also learnt about the structure when you have all the material like opening and closing scenes, length of the chapters, pacing and important: not to cheat the readers to build the suspense. G Roberts doesn't leave dialogue out of the guide and finally, not also the marketing aspects. I found this book very useful and I feel it is indespensable for anyone who is planning to write a mystery.
A Great Little Book That Covers Everything You Need to Write a Mystery
Published by Thriftbooks.com User , 14 years ago
I first purchased this book a few years ago and read it through. Recently, I wanted to look at it again, but couldn't find it. That's why I purchased it a second time. It made a good first impression on me. After reading it again, I can see why I liked it so much. First and foremost, it isn't full of 100 to 200 pages of absolute fluff. I really like the way that it gets down to the brass tacks of writing a mystery, in only 121 pages of text. If I wanted to read a gazillion examples of fiction, I'd just read fiction. This book has just enough concise examples to make the point clear (when examples are needed), and they're always relevant to the topic, unlike many writing books. What you'll get in this book is good solid information, and a good bit of it could easily be applied to other genres. If you're thinking about writing mysteries and you're new to writing, this book is a great place to start. All of the bases are covered. The "Writing Lessons" section at the author's website will give you an idea of the kind of writing you will find in this book. In this book, you'll find ideas about things like "What has to happen before the rest can happen?" You'll also get information about developing false leads, avoiding mystery story cliches, organizing your ideas, and getting past the midbook blues -- just to name a few. If you're an experience writer, you'll probably find plenty of good nuggets in this book. If you're just getting started, buy this book. It's that simple.
Great Starter Book
Published by Thriftbooks.com User , 16 years ago
Gillian Roberts puts together an excellent resource for any writer pursuing publication in the mystery genre. Her lessons are hard-boiled and practical. For example, her first chapter launches the reader into a series of commandments "for mystery writers who want to be published." These include, among others: think like a professional, overcome writer's block, don't wait for the muse, and don't self-edit prior to completing the first draft.After reading Roberts' book, I managed to re-work my book "Abby and the Bicycle Caper (ISBN: 0595305652), and plan to use her advice on my future works. Read this book if you are serious about writing mysteries. I also read a similar book by Sue Grafton, but found it a bit unapproachable, which is entirely my opinion, as Grafton is a recognized authority in her field.This book also served as a great motivator to me, which I believe it will also do for you.
You Can Write A Mystery...Review
Published by Thriftbooks.com User , 20 years ago
This little gem not only gives aspiring novelists a wealth of information but also provides book reviewers with a guide from which books can be critiqued. I was immediately attracted to this book by the title and was not disappointed as I scanned the contents. It explains many important issues that must be addressed if a story is to be successful but are mostly not considered on a conscious level by the reader. The point of view,or the vantage point from which the reader sees the story; building the plot and using false leads; transition and the order of scenes etc. You get the idea. Anyway, I think this book will help me when I'm reviewing a book and will add to my enjoyment while reading. Mysteries will be read from a broader and deeper perspective and the admiration for writers and their skill has increased.Thanks in advance for a vote if this review was helpful.
a gifted teacher
Published by Thriftbooks.com User , 21 years ago
As a former English teacher, I began Roberts' guide with some reservation thinking I'd heard it all before. Surprise! Roberts mission is to share her well-honed knowledge of structure with her expertise as a published writer. I particularly liked the fresh way she explains fundamentals with her final chapter: Finding your voice:the microedit. I went right out and bought the hardcopy of Timeline just to see how a current best seller follows her advice. Her work is inspirational.
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