Updated: Mar 14, 2022
Thanks, But This Isn't for Us: The Compassionate Guide to Understanding What's Wrong with Your Writing and Leaving the Rejection Pile for Good by Jessica Page Morrell is funny, concise and filled with honest, punch-to-the-gut guidance. In short, this book is a winner. If you're a writer who just can't figure out why your manuscript is lagging, missing something or just plain not working--do yourself a favour: read this book!
Flash back three months, to a time when I was already struggling for weeks with rewrites. Despair was starting to creep in, and that voice. Then, after reading one-third of this book, my self-doubting brain began overflowing with ideas on how to improve the plot and structure of my novel. The rest of Thanks, etc. gave me so (so) many tips on how to edit and rewrite my story.
With fourteen chapters that cover, among other things, openings, structure, plot, suspense, using and reigning in style, conflict, dialogue, characters, editing, and manuscript-sinking mistakes, this book is a writing course distilled into a witty primer for any struggling author. Be warned, though, and gird yourself, because you will not find any sugar-coating, only harsh and helpful advice from someone in the know, in these pages. The opening quote for the book tells you all you need to know:
Being a writer is like having homework every night for the rest of your life.
Published in 2009, I found one of the most interesting parts of the book to be its preface, which describes the death of the old publishing empire, but is written in the liminal period before the explosion of self-publishing, e-readers and small presses that we take for granted today. The early 2,000's must have been a grim time for writers, as I'm sure some of you can attest; not that our present day is all smiles and sunshine. We are still trying to shake off the old, desiccated skin of publishing's yesterday but there is hope and change afoot, which is something.
So, if you are self-aware and open to harsh criticism, this book is a good developmental editor in print form. However, if you are not self-aware or open to harsh criticism, or are writing as a hobby, not a career, you might consider giving this one a miss, though I urge you otherwise.
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