Top positive review
Practical Useful Information
Reviewed in the United States on January 12, 2020
Palahniuk begins with the valid complaint that most, nearly all, creative writing seminars, courses, and programs consist of listening to some veteran writer or personality who has inflated his credentials, telling war stories. That observation is spot-on. It happens for several reasons: The department heads and administrators responsible for hiring creative writing instructors (or worse, the self-promoters of seminars) almost always choose published writers. Unfortunately, most published writers are not teachers, don't know how to teach, or don't care about teaching.
The result is that very little in hard knowledge gets transmitted. Advice like: Engage the reader; Make your characters interesting; Start with a bang, is offered. Instructors present big general ideas with no practical advice as to how to implement them. Handholding, enthusiasm, or the promise that the instructor has contacts that will get the student published take the place of substantive knowledge and advice.
Palahniuk says he can do better, and he does. For the first two chapters, he offers ideas and practical advice regarding their implementation in writing novels and short stories. In the third section, he begins to fall into the trap he described:
the war story rambling and discussing general topics without concrete examples or implementation strategies, but some good information is present.
I give the book five stars because if it consisted of only the first chapter, it would be better than 95% of the "how to write" books that are published. An excellent handbook, well done Mr. Palahniuk.