The Art of War for Writers

Art-of-warJames Scott Bell quotes Sun Tzu: “The principle on which to manage an army is to set up one standard of courage which all must reach.”

In The Art of War For Writers, James Scott Bell applies Sun Tzu’s principles for clarity in battle planning to encourage quality, craftsmanship and courage to writers. Not to follow as a how-to manual but, as he says, “to fill in some cracks in what is normally taught in writing books and classes.”

In the section Reconnaissance, Bell addresses the mental aspects of writing. And he shares common wisdom found in most teaching. At first I found myself thinking I was skimming over familiar territory, but then I realized their ongoing importance. These are the foundation pieces that too often we forget. Especially as our writing develops we consider them so basic that we don’t think about them and then don’t recognize when they begin to slip away. But we need to keep them sharp and focused for the long haul.

“Reconnaissance lets you know what you’re up against.” So whether the road opens or obstacles multiply, you are prepared and can still move toward a long-term career. Plus keeping these reflections enables us to have a realistic understanding of our own strengths and weaknesses. Fear is a given. How do I handle it? Do I recognize the manner in which it paralyzes my creative thinking? Bell’s reflections require a personal analysis.

Next in Tactics, he promotes craft, offering many techniques to work deeper in order to take your novel beyond mediocre. Working through this section is like having more than a month of creative jumpstarts, either as actual exercises or as playful application to specific parts of your novel in progress. One tantalizing and practical opportunity, “Utilize the Q Factor as a strategic weapon for motivation at just the right time.” Multiple possibilities.

Closing with Strategy, he shares personal advice. He aims for writing excellence. As writers we need to have a vision, count the cost, set goals, be seen as valuable to a publisher, query, pitch, wow, network, and accept rejection Bell says. And do not let anything “affect your ability to write your best book.”

James Scott Bell offers a plethora of tactical principles to help each writer along the working path, to harness the courage and skill required to keep writing and reach Sun Tzu’s standard.

“The more you know about what you do, and the more you do it, the wiser you will become if you are open.”

Submitted by a Christian Editor Network review.

You can find this book at:

Writer’s Digest

Barnes & Noble