How to Write: Advice and Reflections

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9780688140953: How to Write: Advice and Reflections
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Combines literary advice with a collection of personal vignettes in a guide that places the desire to write over perceived talent. By the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Making of the Atomic Bomb. 20,000 first printing. $25,000 ad/promo.

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Review:

"If you want to write," says Richard Rhodes in the beginning of How to Write, "you can." That is not to say it will be easy. Rhodes is the author of short and long works of fiction and "verity" (he dislikes the word nonfiction, because it defines such a broad range of writing by what it is not), including The Making of the Atomic Bomb, which won a Pulitzer Prize. "Even now," he discloses, "all these books and articles later, writing often feels to me like groping in darkness along a wall."

While Rhodes has much solid advice about the grit one must bring to the writing life--"the best remedy for fear of writing ... is ... ass to chair"--it is his analogies about writing that are most refreshing. "Writing is a craft," he says. "I mean craft strictly: like carpentry or pottery, writing is handmade. Like other crafts as well, writing can sometimes be organized to the special depth and resonance people call art." Elsewhere, Rhodes compares structuring a work of writing to generalship. "A general," he writes, "needs to know what troops and weapons he commands and how they're deployed, but he also needs to develop a strategy for fighting battles and winning the war. The battles probably won't go as he plans, of course. If his strategy is sufficiently flexible, he'll be able to adapt it to circumstances and still come out victorious." And finally, he says, "writing is always like scuba diving, a descent as deep as you can or dare to go, given your capacity and your level of skill."

About the Author:

Awarded the Pulitzer Prize for The Making of the Atomic Bomb, Richard Rhodes has also won the National Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle Prize, as well as fellowships from the Guggenheim, Ford, and MacArthur foundations and the National Endowment for the Arts. He is the author of a dozen books amd more than seventy articles and lives in rural Connecticut with his wife, writer and pilot Ginger Rhodes.

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ISBN 10:  0688149480 ISBN 13:  9780688149482
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks, 1996
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