A best-selling children’s author offers a comprehensive guide for aspirants.
In 2009, Levine started a blog about writing, short essays that became a writers’ advice column, and this volume presents the blog’s “greatest hits.” Character building and “hatching the plot” are clearly what young writers get stuck on most often and thus receive substantial treatment here. Other issues, such as theme, “mid-story crisis,” back story, flashback, foreshadowing and mystery are also covered. There’s a seriousness about the craft that’s refreshing; Levine is determined to help young writers get the underpinnings right—verb tense, using a thesaurus (or “word grazing,” as she calls it), clarity and grammar. She urges readers to take to heart her advice about usage, writing, “here’s a command about grammar and spelling: Get it right. An editor won’t give the newbie writer any latitude on this.” Most chapters end with the friendly reminder to “[h]ave fun, and save what you write!” The volume has a pleasing circularity, beginning with the author’s discussion of her own blog and closing with advice on writing blogs, since a well-written blog offers what Levine’s became, a means of mutual support for writers.
A well-meaning and friendly resource that may well save young writers much time and distress and, perhaps, lead to success in getting published. (Nonfiction. 11 & up)