Sunday, January 17, 2010

Book Review: Flogging the Quill

I discovered the Flogging the Quill website last April and have been a faithful follower and participant ever since. Where else can you get a professional critique of your first page by a real, live editor absolutely free?  What keeps me coming back is that the advice is not just free, but that it is good.

The one disadvantage to the FTQ website, however, is that submitting to a public "flogging" of our words is always difficult.  No matter how much we psyche ourselves up for criticism, it's tough.  As Seargant Major Harper said after being flogged in Sharpe's Enemy, "Jeez, it hurts like hell. I don't think I could have stood any more."

Now, you don't have to.

Ray Rhamey has taken all of the wisdom, humor and encouragement of his website and packed it into a highly readable workbook-style guide titled Flogging the Quill: Crafting a Novel that Sells. I am not a fan of most writing books because they all seem to say the same things: Show, don't tell. Create believable characters. Keep your plot moving.

Rhamey doesn't just tell you what to do, he *shows* you with concrete examples and a humorous touch. I learned more from this book than I have from all the other books on writing I've read so far combined. The bigger page size definitely helps with readability, as do the cartoons and illustrations sprinkled through the text. Every section ends with a practical exercise, and there are additional samples on which to practice your new-found revision skills at the back of the book.

To make it even more fantastic, Ray is giving a free critique of your first three pages, or a free half-hour phone call (one hour for groups) to discuss writing topics, with the purchase of each book. You can't beat that for an incentive.

This is truly the best fifteen bucks I've ever invested in my writing.  Go ahead and try this at home.

The opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own. I have not received any compensation from the author.

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