Murder Your Darlings: And Other Gentle Writing Advice from Aristotle to Zinsser by Roy Peter Clark

In addition to reading every book that I can get my hands on, I also enjoy writing.  I do not know if my works of fiction are any good, but I do enjoy the writing process at least.  I have been reading more books on writing craft lately.  When this book came in at work, a friend handed it to me and told me I might want to check it out.  I bought it, and it sat on the TBR pile for a bit.  Today, I finally finished it.

Murder Your Darlings by Roy Peter Clark is a very useful writing craft book in many ways.  It offers several important pieces of advice – highlighting ways to accomplish the different techniques through stories, examples, and more.  It also provides an overview on some of the top writing craft books written.  Collected in this volume are many of the bestselling writing books, but there are also undiscovered rough diamonds as well.  I have a new reading list of writing craft books that I have started hunting for in the library after reading this book,

Each chapter begins with one or two (or three) writing craft books that inspired the chapter.  Then, Clark provides us with a one paragraph “toolbox” summary of the key points of the writing advice in the chapter.  At the conclusion of the chapter, Clark provides numbered bullet point “Lessons” for us to take away from the chapter and the books discussed in the chapter.  Sometimes these come in the form of writing exercises or other things to try.  Other times, these are takeaway points for us to think about.

I appreciate how Clark was able to take some of the best writing books and condense the key points from them into a single volume.  This is like a sampler plate of appetizers at a restaurant.  You can try out the different tastes and flavors and identify the ones that might work for you while getting a taste of those that would not have likely been your choices.  Sometimes you discover little gems.  Sometimes you discover that books you really thought were going to be good are not really what you need at the moment.  Other times you realize you really do want to read more from the author who inspired this bit in the chapter.

Books on the craft of writing can be really good and really motivating.  They can also be really dry and boring (as any craft-related book can).  Clark makes the different books that have inspired him come to life on the page.  It might seem weird to read a book about books about writing books, but this one really works.

Now, I am off to free write for a bit.  Then, I hope to have a bit of time for a walk and to read a bit before heading to the library and then to a meeting.  I really know how to take a day off of work…  Until next time, Happy Reading!

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