Sunday, May 12, 2013

How to Write Good / John Vorhaus

Reviewed by: BigAl

Genre: Non-Fiction / Writing

Approximate word count: 20-25,000 words

Kindle  US: YES  UK: YES  Nook: NO  Smashwords: NO  Paper: YES
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John Vorhaus is the author of numerous novels and screenplays. In the non-fiction arena, he’s written several books on poker as well as a guide on writing comedy for television and film, The Comic Toolbox: How to be Funny Even If You’re Not, which is now in its fifth printing.
For more, visit the author’s website.


“Starting with a wink at his own dumb title and a case for whimsy as a writer’s best friend, veteran writer and writing instructor John Vorhaus offers us this latest glimpse inside his writing mind. Drawing on a quarter-century of experience in writing scripts and novels, and teaching and training writers worldwide.”


The dedication of How to Write Good is “to everyone who has the itch,” and its aim seems as much motivational as instructional, to get those who are writing wannabes to start, and encourage those who have tried and struggled, to try, try again. If there is an overriding theme, it is that the key to figuring out what works, not for other writers, but what works for you, is not being afraid to give an idea a try. Be whimsical. Heck, you can even try a grammatically questionable title.

Vorhaus says “in writing, there are no wrong choices,” and he’s not afraid to make what seems like a wrong choice. For example, this snippet from early in the book:

(Boy, here comes a convoluted sentence – get ready for it.) I figure you figure what I figure you figure because if I were you I would be figuring the exact same thing. (Told ya. Convoluted as hell.)

Confused? I can’t blame you, yet, this sentence worked for me. Vorhaus’ books are always spiked with humor, and as the above shows, he’s not afraid of poking fun at himself. In this section he’s talking about reading the mind of the reader, specifically how they’ll react, by evaluating how you react (this is also one of the keys to success in poker, one of Vorhaus’ other areas of expertise).

After reading How to Write Well, even the worst writer in the world should be encouraged to keep plugging away. As Vorhaus says, even that worst writer who is “spewing drivel onto the page every day,” will eventually reach the point where it “will cease being drivel, or at least evolve into drivel of a finer sort.” For some of us, drivel of a finer sort is a worthy goal, at least for now.

Format/Typo Issues:

No significant issues.

Rating: **** Four stars

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