Initial reaction: This book had so many gems for commentary, that I was surprised by how much I enjoyed it. It really comes across as helpful writing advice for writers of many expertise levels, and it’s worth going through it. More to come when I write the full review (eventually – ended up finishing this in a library sitting).
Reading this was a bit of a surprise for me, because I didn’t expect it to be as funny in terms of the narrative voice that Peter Selgin gives for writing advice. I don’t always agree with his commentary, but he provides a lot of food for thought and advice on the writing craft, especially with consideration to problems that a writer may have with drafting a novel.
There are literally 179 focal points given in this guide (so it’s true to its name). It’s divided into a number of sections, which range from substance to style to structure and the far measure between, paying attention to some of his experiences as a writer and giving feedback about his students’ works.
I kind of want to fistbump Selgin on what he mentions about melodrama (which is something I think a lot of writers, especially those writing in YA and NA, could learn from – because it’s definitely an issue I see a lot of the time.)
The collection is well organized and quite a bit of the points made in each section tend to follow up with each other – so one will run concurrently with another in a given section and choose to expound. It’s definitely one I would recommend as a supplement text for writing, though there may be times when the writer may find his/her experience and rationale may differ from Selgin. It’s still a worthwhile narrative for its food for thought, advice, and eye to the writing craft and building a novel.
Overall score: 3.5/5 stars.