cover image Blood on the Forehead: What I Know about Writing

Blood on the Forehead: What I Know about Writing

M. E. Kerr. HarperCollins Publishers, $21.95 (224pp) ISBN 978-0-06-027996-7

In this writers' guide cum Kerr sampler, the award-winning author shares her expertise in crafting stories and novels. While aspiring authors eager for straightforward creative-writing lessons might be better off with the nuts-and-bolts guidance in such works as Marion Dane Bauer's What's Your Story?, Kerr's looser presentation also serves up much to stimulate discerning readers and writers. The most concrete suggestions, condensed into 10 helpful hints, are briskly spelled out in the first chapter; some are conventional (""Show your reader, don't tell him""), others reflect more personal preferences (""Be as direct as possible.... Flashbacks stop the momentum""). The rest of the book explains the genesis of specific pieces (five short stories, two novel excerpts, one segment of her autobiography, all included here). Offering few explicit rules, Kerr demonstrates how she alters and incorporates real-life events in her fiction. She also touches on current concerns like political correctness (""A writer today can become so self-conscious... that [a] game of Cowboys and Indians becomes Cowpeople and Native Americans""), confesses that she cannot begin a novel until she comes up with a title and injects a healthy dose of humor (""Cut! Cut! Cut! Your reader has a life""). Deepening readers' appreciation of Kerr's work, this volume will sharpen their approaches to their own. Ages 11-up. (May)