Write Away

title-writeawayEvery writer has his or her bookshelf favorites. It’s important to find the writing mentors that can expand our depth and style in the stories we hunger to write. But there are also some mentors whose writing principles cross over genres and over years. They define what is a classic. These are the craft books we return to again and again: as beginners, advanced and professional, because each time we learn something new to apply. They have stood, or will stand, the test of time for each novel that we write.

Novelist Elizabeth George brings this depth of excellence and longevity to Write Away that she also does to her absorbing suspense novels. Her premise is that an understanding and mastery of craft will enable writers to navigate the problems we encounter in our novels.

“A thorough knowledge of the tools of our trade is what gives us something to turn to when we run into difficulties.”

She categorizes her process and experience into five sections: an overview of the craft, the basics, technique, process, and examples and guides. In addition, with each chapter opening she shares an excerpt from her personal journals, which she keeps for each novel. These excerpts open a window into the emotional journey that writing requires, regardless of experience and success.

“I move tentatively now. I’d like to speak loftily about my attempts to mold the characters and to reach great heights of wisdom when all I’m trying to do is to tell a story that holds together.” Journal of a Novel, June 27, 1994.

Her psychological and practical insights into characterization provide ample creative fuel, no matter the specific genre. With concrete details and application she expands the quality of setting and landscape by efficient showing instead of telling which imprints the reader with specific impressions. Her purpose is to enable her characters to possess their own individual landscapes—both internal and external.

And following her own advice to show, she walks us through her process of taking a place via photograph, and turning it into a setting, (scene by scene location) and landscape, (broad vista) that provides atmosphere as a mirror.

These are only a few, brief snippets of a panorama of possibilities to create and construct our novels. In Write Away, Elizabeth George teaches, mentors, guides, advises, rebukes and challenges writers at all stages to perfect their craft—and then to trust in their commitment.

“This is the moment when faith is called for. Faith in the creative spirit within me, which is part of what I’ve been given by God; faith in the process; faith in my intelligence and my imagination. …….. I suit up and show up. I sit down at the computer and I do the work, moving it forward a sentence a t a time, which is ultimately the only way there is to write a book.” Journal of a Novel, July 6, 1998.

“by a CEN member”


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