An award-winning novelist (On My Honor, 1987 Newbery Honor) and experienced writing teacher cogently discusses her craft. As John Gardner did in The Art of Fiction (1984), Bauer insists on technique and deliberation over inspiration and natural endowment, reminding readers that no musical virtuoso ever captivated without a command of the notes. After spelling out the need to regulate the writing habit, she settles into the nitty-gritty of gathering and expanding ideas; building on characters, plot, and themes; and, yes, mastering grammar, spelling, and punctuation. Her last comment is telling: ""Knowing your craft can help you tell a story. But only by taking risks can you make art."" After many pages of provocative information and straightforward counsel, that sentence may be the one to launch youngsters to the challenge. The book speaks directly to young writers, but many adults (teachers, librarians, reviewers, editors, would-be writers) will also find this sensible dissection of the storytelling process invaluable.