However, just because a book is an addition to the slew of handbooks on the market at the moment doesn’t mean it’s worth examining. And just because a well-known master in the field has come out with a sequel doesn’t mean it’s just a rehash and more of the same old same old.
As a case in point, someone (who shall go nameless) has come out with a “snowflake” method. Not only is the book self-published by a writer with no listed professional credentials, nowhere to be found is any explanation or justification of the book’s title. To make matters worse, the reader is expected to identify with Goldilocks as she wrestles with standard formats and interplay with the three bears until she discovers the marketability of the best approach which, at a guess, is the still unjustified “snowflake” path to success. Perhaps if you wanted to wade through all the one-star reviews on Amazon you might come across some higher-star reviews that reveal a possible benefit of going through all the trouble. But you’d still have to relate to Goldilocks. Good luck with that prospect.
On the other hand, Walter Mosley, the acclaimed writer of the Easy Rawlins mystery series and recipient of the Mystery Writers Grand Master Award, a Grammy and an Edgar Award, has just come out with Elements of Fiction, a compact but insight-rich treatise on the craft and process of mastering the essential elements. A work that never for an instance promises a sure-fire shortcut to cranking out a saleable product.
Take this passage as an example:
“The novel is bigger than the writer’s head. It is a mountain and she is an ant. It is a globular planet when he at first thought it was a vast flat plain. A novel is a realm of discovery, a place where the characters and the writer and the evening news come together to create something they had not, they could not have known beforehand.”
Or this one:
“Why write a novel if the only goal is to inform, instruct, or explain? You believe in the politics of this story the way a farmer believes in the spring. But what does that famer think when she looks out over the distance and sees a mile-wide tornado bearing down on her farm? That is the right question. A killer storm had descended to destroy our better selves, our hopes and beliefs. That is the mood and key to this particular story.”
And now we’re getting somewhere.