cover image Lessons from a Lifetime of Writing: A Novelist Looks at His Craft

Lessons from a Lifetime of Writing: A Novelist Looks at His Craft

David Morrell, . . F&W, $22.99 (243pp) ISBN 978-1-58297-143-8

In this literate, encouraging how-to, the bestselling author of First Blood and The Brotherhood of the Rose (among 15 other novels, as well as some nonfiction, stories and scripts—the two named made it to the screen) offers would-be writers advice on plot, character, structure and beyond. With blurbs from Peter Straub and Dean Koontz, Morrell's foray into the literary do-it-yourself field is sure to grab the attention of readers who want to write their own thriller, but there's food here for any hopeful scribe, whether it be a delicious skewering of former Paramount Productions head Don Simpson (said to have coined the term "high concept") or a reflection on E.M. Forster's assessment that all good plots are mysteries. And because Morrell is an avid reader and a former English literature professor, the textual examples he employs—Hemingway's descriptions, Twain's dialects—are rich and varied. Write because you have to; remember that characters need to control plot and that description must "serve the requirements of your story"; don't get discouraged when you fail; and send to editors whose tastes runs toward your kind of fiction: these are a few examples of Morrell's advice. So it's not earth-shattering—but it is careful and thoughtful, and at times, inspirational. (Mar.)