A flair for writing, a desire to create in this medium, and a thousand and one questions pertaining to craft are the prerequisites for interest in Elizabeth Yates' thoughtful guide. The reader is first directed to her favorite books. It is essential to reduce a book to its structure by analyzing why it captivates, at what points interest quickens, etc. Then, with a special focus on her own writing, the reader learns techniques of choosing a subject, developing a plot, writing good dialogue, achieving a dynamic beginning which builds gradually toward a conclusion. There are many temptations to cope with -- beginning a new work when the crucial task of completing an unfinished one is at hand, depending too much on research and too little on personal reaction, etc. But for the serious novels, the basic disciplines cannot be avoided indefinitely. In as much as any guide can be helpful in a creative area, this offers some sound advice, valuable personal anecdote and an unsentimental view of a painstaking endeavor. Best of all, its language and organization will not discourage the tentative beginner.