Writing Book Reviews

The Internet Writing Journal, June 2000
Page Two of Two

Plot by Ansen Dibell

Writer's Digest Books, 1999.
Paperback, 170 pages.
ISBN: 0898799465
Ordering information:
Amazon.com. | Amazon.co.uk

by Ansen Dibell This fiction reference aims to help writers who are having trouble with plotting. Plot problems often result in unfinished stories, stories that seem distant or uninvolving, or in stories that switch to a different plot later on in the story. Author Ansen Dibell tells us that plot problems often fall in two categories: creating plot, and controlling plot. She begins the book by explaining to writers what plot is. She then provides plotting instruction from openings to endings, including methods for controlling plot throughout your story. Some of the plot topics covered in the book include: viewpoint, exposition, subplots, scenes, set-pieces, scenery, melodrama, patterns, pacing and transitions. Dibell points to plots from well-known literature to illustrate how plotting works. Plot is a little gem for fiction writers who need help with plotting.

Successful Syndication: A Guide for Writers and Cartoonists by Michael Sedge

Allworth Press, April 2000.
Trade Paperback, 183 pages.
ISBN: 1581150512
Ordering information
Amazon.com. | Amazon.co.uk

Successful Syndication: A Guide for Writers and Cartoonists
edited by Michael Sedge Syndication can provide a generous revenue stream for those who manage to syndicate their work. This reference focuses on syndication for both cartoonists and writers. Coverage in the book includes what to expect, finding a syndication agency, working with a syndicate, guidelines for writers and cartoonists, self-syndication, submissions and using the Internet. A list of syndication agencies is provided with contact information, including email and website information. Also included is a section with sample syndication contracts, contract analysis and other syndication resources.

Michael Sedge has compiled an informative collection of material and advice, including tips from columnists and cartoonists who have had their work syndicated, that will help cartoonists and writers learn about how syndication works and how to get started. The reference only has a small section on the rapidly growing online syndication business, but it does provide information about the traditional syndication business which you should understand before exploring the online syndication world. An excellent guide to understanding and engaging in syndication, this book will be invaluable for those looking to jump into the lucrative syndication business.

Telling the Tale: The African-American Fiction Writer's Guide by Angela Benson

Berkley, May 2000.
Paperback, 212 pages.
ISBN: 0425170543
Ordering information:
Amazon.com. | Amazon.co.uk

Telling the Tale: The African-American Fiction Writer's Guide
by Angela Benson This learning tool for fiction writers focuses on building your craft. The book focuses specifically on the work of African-American writers and instruction from successful author Angela Benson. Fiction writing topics covered include: plot, creating believable characters, researching, point of view, dialogue, monologue, scenes and revision. Benson's book focuses on the "learning by doing" method -- Benson insists that writers rigorously practice their craft. As the author tells writers, "You don't learn to write by reading; you learn to write by writing." To help writers practice, she provides lots of helpful writing exercises. Also included are detailed character profile worksheets and a revision checklist. Benson's writing advice applies to all types of writing, but she primarily uses examples from the work of black writers in television, films and books to illustrate her points. She also provides inspiring success stories from several black authors including Terry McMillan, Evelyn Coleman, and Walter Mosley to show beginning writers how it takes hard work to succeed in the writing world.

Angela Benson is a successful romance novelist whose work includes romances for Harlequin and Tyndale House; she has given numerous workshops and presentations on writing. Her writing advice is constructive and sincere; writers would be well-advised to follow her advice and practice their craft by completing the exercises in the book. Benson knows her stuff, and her wonderful reference book for African-American fiction writers would be equally useful to writers of any ethnicity.

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