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    Review of WRITE AWAY by Elizabeth George (see her website)

    HarperCollins Publishers, March 2004

    Writing a novel is hard work. Even best-selling writers like Elizabeth George (see reviews of mysteries by George) struggle with their words, their plots, and their doubts about their worth--a valuable lesson for those of us who suspect that we are the only ones who suffer. In WRITE AWAY, George describes her method for writing--starting with characters, moving to setting, and finally to plot. She also details her process--character sketches, step outline, plot outline, rough draft, etc., in enough detail to give any writer insights and new ideas to play with.

    Elizabeth George doesn't perscribe her method as the only approach (she even discusses T. Jefferson Parker's method which consists of writing a rough draft, then putting it aside and starting over without even referring to the freshly written draft), but she does touch on the universals that are essential to powerful fiction--creating a bond between character and reader, making each character stand out with their own personality, and development of setting that is strong enough to become the story itself.

    Using plenty of examples from her own writing and novels by other writers, George gives the details that should allow any writer to improve her writing. Finally, George concludes with a powerful thought--guaranteed success depends on having talent, passion, and discipline. But with discipline alone, you will still likely be published--and discipline is the one thing that we can control. I also liked George's recommendation on character sketches--while she props up a list of characteristics, she doesn't fill in the blanks, instead, she writes details of their life and background.

    WRITE AWAY is a valuable addition to the writer's library. George's insights enlighten while her own self-doubts remind us that we aren't alone as writers. Beginning writers may find some of George's advice to be a lot to take in one dose. Instead of reading it like a novel, it might be better taken in smaller sips. As a combination of practical advice, methods that work, and a look into the real life of a super-successful author, WRITE AGAIN definitely hits the spot.

    Three Stars

    Reviewed 1/01/04

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    What do you think? Too generous? Too stingy? Or did I miss the entire point? Send your comments to Give me the okay to use your name and I'll publish all the comments that fit (and don't use unprintable language).