Patience and commitment, this useful guide reveals, are a writer’s strongest assets.



An award-winning fiction writer and teacher shares hard-won advice.

Novelist and memoirist Scofield (Creative Writing/Pine Manor Coll.; Swim: Stories of the Sixties, 2017, etc.) brings her experience as a writer and teacher to a practical, encouraging manual focused on revision. Although addressing novices as well as advanced writers, the author assumes that her audience is fairly sophisticated and well-read: she includes examples from canonical fiction (The Scarlet Letter, The Great Gatsby, Madame Bovary) as well as lesser-known works, such as Maisie Dobbs’ Leaving Everything Most Loved and Rebecca Rasmussen’s Evergreen. Often, Scofield reflects on the challenges of writing and revision that she faces in her own work. She distinguishes between revising a first draft and rewriting, which is a process of “total immersion.” She advises working from two printed copies of the draft—“a real object with weight and a smell, a size and a color”—along with pens and index cards in several colors, which come in handy for several exercises, including creating a storyboard, an illustrative analysis of a novel’s chapters and scenes as they unfold. “Be very wary of cut-and-paste,” she cautions; retyping, even if only a few words have been changed, “will help you to maintain coherence and flow.” Scofield also suggests keeping a revision journal to record questions, reflections, and self-evaluation; as revision progresses, she suggests writing “a document that describes your love of your story.” The book is filled with exercises that focus intensely on reading as well as writing. These include making a stack of admired novels “to identify qualities you might aspire to,” writing taglines for a recently read novel, and choosing six “noncontiguous” scenes from the manuscript under revision to assess how they connect across the plot. Appendices offer a list of recommended books on craft, lessons from model novels, and examples of scenarios, storyboarding, and scene templates.

Patience and commitment, this useful guide reveals, are a writer’s strongest assets.

Pub Date: Dec. 5, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-14-313135-9

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Penguin

Review Posted Online: Sept. 3, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2017

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This is not the Nutcracker sweet, as passed on by Tchaikovsky and Marius Petipa. No, this is the original Hoffmann tale of 1816, in which the froth of Christmas revelry occasionally parts to let the dark underside of childhood fantasies and fears peek through. The boundaries between dream and reality fade, just as Godfather Drosselmeier, the Nutcracker's creator, is seen as alternately sinister and jolly. And Italian artist Roberto Innocenti gives an errily realistic air to Marie's dreams, in richly detailed illustrations touched by a mysterious light. A beautiful version of this classic tale, which will captivate adults and children alike. (Nutcracker; $35.00; Oct. 28, 1996; 136 pp.; 0-15-100227-4)

Pub Date: Oct. 28, 1996

ISBN: 0-15-100227-4

Page Count: 136

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1996

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From the national correspondent for PBS's MacNeil-Lehrer Newshour: a moving memoir of her youth in the Deep South and her role in desegregating the Univ. of Georgia. The eldest daughter of an army chaplain, Hunter-Gault was born in what she calls the ``first of many places that I would call `my place' ''—the small village of Due West, tucked away in a remote little corner of South Carolina. While her father served in Korea, Hunter-Gault and her mother moved first to Covington, Georgia, and then to Atlanta. In ``L.A.'' (lovely Atlanta), surrounded by her loving family and a close-knit black community, the author enjoyed a happy childhood participating in activities at church and at school, where her intellectual and leadership abilities soon were noticed by both faculty and peers. In high school, Hunter-Gault found herself studying the ``comic-strip character Brenda Starr as I might have studied a journalism textbook, had there been one.'' Determined to be a journalist, she applied to several colleges—all outside of Georgia, for ``to discourage the possibility that a black student would even think of applying to one of those white schools, the state provided money for black students'' to study out of state. Accepted at Michigan's Wayne State, the author was encouraged by local civil-rights leaders to apply, along with another classmate, to the Univ. of Georgia as well. Her application became a test of changing racial attitudes, as well as of the growing strength of the civil-rights movement in the South, and Gault became a national figure as she braved an onslaught of hostilities and harassment to become the first black woman to attend the university. A remarkably generous, fair-minded account of overcoming some of the biggest, and most intractable, obstacles ever deployed by southern racists. (Photographs—not seen.)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-374-17563-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1992

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