Friday, June 23, 2017

Summer Reading 2017 The Hidden Machinery


Author Margot Livesey shares the lessons she has learned about being a writer in this essay collection. Each section begins with a quote from a famous author such as Robert Louis Stevenson, Epicurus, or George Herbert. She also uses examples from well-known pieces of literature to illustrate her points. Other writers might have chosen to only use their own work as the examples, but Livesey has chosen to refer to works that are widely known and often considered classics as well as pulling from her own writing. It makes an interesting balance and shows how the principles of writing apply across generations of writing past and present. 

There is humor and honest self criticism. Talking about a novel she attempted to write and the problems she encountered, Livesey identifies one issue as her "failure to understand that irrelevance is a sin." She compares Aristotle's claim that "All human happiness and misery takes the form of action," with the advice "Show don't tell." Everything from dialogue, setting, characters, plot - any of the pieces that go together to create a piece of writing that speaks to readers - are discussed and examples are shown and analyzed. 

A useful book to read for any aspiring writer or anyone interested in the craft from the perspective of an informed reader. I read an e-book provided by the publisher through NetGalley.

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