If you've ever wondered how your favorite writers go about crafting their written works, or if you've ever been interested in writing a book yourself, chances are you've wandered into a bookstore or a library, scanning the shelves for some kind of guidance. Books on writing typically fall into two camps: some are more centered on writing as philosophy, a way of life. Less about how to write and more about the author, and their specific writing journey, like Annie Dillard's The Writing Life
and Stephen King's On Writing
, which are both fascinating and inspiring, but not necessarily all that helpful if you're looking for some quick and dirty tips on revising a story. Many other books on writing---I would venture to say even most---act as coaches: they preach writing regimens and keeping daily journals---finding the time and making the space. The strategy with these is often to write as much as you can as quickly as possible, because the goal is to get your foot in the door: to actually sit there and write something.
But what comes after that? You've sat and written and maybe you have enough for a novel, or a memoir. The story is all there, but still somethings not quite right, and you cant be sure how to diagnose the problem. The characters don't relate to one another like real people, the dialogue feels stiff, the sentences just don't flow the way you've seen them do in your favorite Annie Dillard or Stephen King books, and maybe by now the self-doubt is starting to set in, and you're wondering, am I really cut out for this?
Enter Dinty W. Moore
, the longtime editor of the online publication Brevity
, a journal of concise literary nonfiction, and the author of numerous books on writing including his latest, called The Story Cure: A Book Doctor's Pain-Free Guide to Finishing Your Novel or Memoir
(Ten Speed Press
Often, Moore says, when people write their stories, they tend to place the blame for the writings shortcomings on themselves. The Book Doctor
, however, believes that whatever is ailing a novel or memoir in progress is not about the writer, it is about the story: how well we understand it, how well we tell it, and how well we enable it to come alive in the reader's mind. With my cohost Eric LeMay and I today on the New Books Network is Dinty W. Moore, dispeller of the pervasive myth that good writing should be effortless, and a staunch believer that anyone is capable of writing, and, with practice, of writing well.