Wednesday, 22 July 2009

Writing Book Review - On Writing the Short Story

I bought "On Writing the Short Story" by Hallie Burnett because it was recommended in "Self-Editing for Fiction Writers" as "the best book we've found on the subject". Right now that doesn't seem such a glowing endorsement. It just makes me wonders what the other books are like if they aren't as good. Because while it's a good book with some excellent information and advice it's very thin and around half of it is sample stories. This sounds rather lack my complaints about another book on short story writing "How to Write Short Stories For Magazines -- and get Published" but this book wins over the previous one for several reasons.

  1. The quality of the advice is much better, and it's generally better written.
  2. Only one of the sample stories is actually by the book's author
  3. One of the sample stories is the classic "Address Unknown" by Kressman Taylor which retails on its own for £5.99 on Amazon - it's worth buying for this powerful and tragic story on its own.
  4. The internal layout of the book looks like a book.
So it doesn't feel as anaemic as "How to Write Short Stories for Magazines" and I didn't pay anywhere near as much for it, but it still doesn't feel comprehensive. It's an excellent primer, and given you can pick it up for £1.51 on Amazon (well from other sellers selling through Amazon) it's worth the money, but I wanted something a bit meatier.

It's still head and shoulders above "How to Write Short Stories for Magazines" and so I grant it 3 stars.

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