Expectations also apply to non-fiction genres, including craft books on writing. Several years ago, when I first began writing, I bought craft books I saw highly recommended online. One of the books I ordered sight unseen was Stephen King’s On Writing (2000, 2010 paperback). The book arrived, and I saw the subtitle: A Memoir of the Craft. On page seventeen, the first page of narrative after his three forewords, King states, “This is not an autobiography.” I stopped reading on page twenty-three. I had expected a craft book; instead, I had purchased a mildly interesting autobiography.
I signed up for a writing course that begins later this month. One of the pre-course homework assignments is to read Stephen King’s On Writing. I pulled it from the discard pile and knocked off the dust. This time I made it to page one hundred-three before tossing it on the ephemeral “Should Be Read” pile. At least I’d found a helpful editing example on pages fifty-six-to-fifty-seven. I’ll read the remaining one hundred-eighty-eight pages before the course starts. In those pages, I expect to find the jewels for which the book is so highly recommended.
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On the other hand, if you want a craft book that shows examples of what not to do from an editor’s point of view, consider How Not to Write a Novel: 200 Classic Mistakes and How to Avoid Them – A Misstep-by-Misstep Guide by Howard Mittelmark and Sandra Newman (2008). I chuckled at the Introduction and belly-laughed through Part I. I’m looking forward to reading the rest of this helpful and highly entertaining book.