30/01/2009

How to Write and Sell Short Stories (by Della Galton)

I'd never heard of Della Galton, but saw this book recommended very highly on at least two blogs I frequent, which are run by writers. So I bought it at the Book Depository at the end of December, and thought I might be dipping into it throughout the year. That's usually how long it takes me to read books about writing!

However, I finished 'How to write and sell short stories' this morning. I found it a very helpful - if lightweight - book, with advice on characterisation, plot, ideas for stories, and a great deal more. There were no exercises, which I think is probably a plus since I tend to get either bored or frustrated with exercises in writing books. There were, however, some good suggestions for getting started: the main advice, repeated more than once, being to set a twenty-minute timer and just write!

There were also some useful chapters at the end on finding a market, submitting, and keeping records. None of that was new to me, which is perhaps why I finished the last part of the book at one sitting, but it was a useful overview which I'm sure would be of benefit to anyone new to writing, or who has not submitted stories to magazines before.

I found Della Galton to have a breezy and friendly style which made the book very readable. I didn't have to think too hard, yet I felt uplifted and inspired with what she said. There was plenty to encourage me, including the chapter about rejections! There are tips from other writers at the end of most chapters, which reinforce or add to the main text.

My only minor complaint about this book is that the pages weren't laid out very well. There were frequent places where the heading of a new section within a chapter was at the bottom of the previous page - disturbing at first, but I got used to it. I don't know if I had an early edition that had not been checked for layout, or whether this is a new style in non-fiction books. Still, even that didn't distract from the excellence of the writing and advice.

Very highly recommended to anyone interested in writing short stories, whether or not you have had any published.

Review copyright Sue's Book Reviews, 30th January 2009

1 comment:

Suzanne said...

I agree - this is a very helpful book. Also agree with your point about excercises - I find these are a waste of time in a writing book as I can never be bothered to do them.