“Take what you like and leave the rest,” writes George early on. It’s good advice for approaching this book.



An up-close and personal class in writing a novel.

Most authors of how-to-write books provide numerous excerpts and samples of work from successful, published authors in order to show aspiring writers how it’s done. Hot on the heels of her last Inspector Lynley mystery, The Punishment She Deserves (2018), the award-winning George breaks this tradition by analyzing a single novel, Careless in Red (2008), one of her Lynley mysteries. The excerpts are extensive and sometimes quite lengthy, so expect spoilers. Throughout, the author calmly teaches by example, pragmatically walking readers through numerous sections of the lengthy novel. “What I actually want to do,” she writes, “is show you how a particular process that I’ve developed over time works for me.” Before George begins a novel, she conducts extensive research. Here, she includes photographs she took of the seaside in Cornwall where the novel is set and discusses how she was looking for a location to establish tone and atmosphere. What she discovered “ended up giving me an entrée into my novel.” Once she has found a “plot kernel” and the settings, “everything else rises from the characters: the subplots, conflicts, theme, motifs, agendas, and the shape of the through line of the story.” The author creates elaborate prompt sheets from which a character “rises up and tells me who he is.” In other chapters, George explores dialogue, voice, point of view, and plot development. A key to the George method of writing is the “THAD,” or “Talking Heads Avoidance Device,” which is an “action that accompanies dialogue.” Writers must “avoid writing a scene that comprises only dialogue and taglines.” The author concludes with a detailed discussion of the importance of revising. “I’m a perfectionist,” she writes, but she doesn’t include much on language or style. Each chapter includes optional exercises. The author’s nuts-and-bolts approach may be a tad too dry for some fledgling writers.

“Take what you like and leave the rest,” writes George early on. It’s good advice for approaching this book.

Pub Date: April 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-7831-1

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Dec. 18, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...



Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").

Pub Date: May 15, 1972

ISBN: 0205632645

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1972

Did you like this book?



Noted jazz and pop record producer Thiele offers a chatty autobiography. Aided by record-business colleague Golden, Thiele traces his career from his start as a ``pubescent, novice jazz record producer'' in the 1940s through the '50s, when he headed Coral, Dot, and Roulette Records, and the '60s, when he worked for ABC and ran the famous Impulse! jazz label. At Coral, Thiele championed the work of ``hillbilly'' singer Buddy Holly, although the only sessions he produced with Holly were marred by saccharine strings. The producer specialized in more mainstream popsters like the irrepressibly perky Teresa Brewer (who later became his fourth wife) and the bubble-machine muzak-meister Lawrence Welk. At Dot, Thiele was instrumental in recording Jack Kerouac's famous beat- generation ramblings to jazz accompaniment (recordings that Dot's president found ``pornographic''), while also overseeing a steady stream of pop hits. He then moved to the Mafia-controlled Roulette label, where he observed the ``silk-suited, pinky-ringed'' entourage who frequented the label's offices. Incredibly, however, Thiele remembers the famously hard-nosed Morris Levy, who ran the label and was eventually convicted of extortion, as ``one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, and classiest music men I have ever known.'' At ABC/Impulse!, Thiele oversaw the classic recordings of John Coltrane, although he is the first to admit that Coltrane essentially produced his own sessions. Like many producers of the day, Thiele participated in the ownership of publishing rights to some of the songs he recorded; he makes no apology for this practice, which he calls ``entirely appropriate and without any ethical conflicts.'' A pleasant, if not exactly riveting, memoir that will be of most interest to those with a thirst for cocktail-hour stories of the record biz. (25 halftones, not seen)

Pub Date: May 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-19-508629-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1995

Did you like this book?