After spending years as a developmental editor, a decade getting my PhD in Literature and a few writing courses where I helped thousands of writers nail the basics of plotting out their story, I decided to put my best tips on the craft of writing together in a book. I already knew I had unique and helpful content for new authors who don’t want to look amateurish (who write for the love, but without experience).
But what started as a book on writing craft has become a deep dive into literary narrative, with historical trivia and biographical flourishes. I’ve leaned into the “magical” theme of the book, and have even started using magical words as devices to theme the chapters together. In many ways, this is the book I was born to write, which I suppose is inevitable – every book you write will be born of you.
After hitting 1200 preorders I was able to launch in time, but I’ve set up a new website where I’ll post supplementary material as a “grimoire” where I’ll continue to share new writing insights.
Here’s an excerpt:
One time I brought a magic trick to elementary school. It was a coloring book, where the pages would show as blank, then illustrated, then full color, depending on how it was displayed. I performed a few times, astounding my friends.
But then at recess, a classmate snuck into my desk, stole the trick and showed everyone exactly how it worked. I was mortified.
“It’s a trick,” she showed everyone. “It’s not real magic.”
The difference between real magic and just a trick is the challenge I’ve been struggling to comprehend for the past few months.
You see, I’ve been working on a book about the craft of writing. It’s gotten a little out of hand: starting with the subtitle, cut the fluff, keep the magic, it’s spiraled into a 500-page craft book full of literary trivia and spellcraft.
In many different ways, I’m trying to give you the structure and ritual you need so you can cast powerful spells over your readers. I’ve even found a way to structure it around four magic words.
This goes beyond plotting or writing, this is deep magic that I’ve never seen in another writing book (I’m stumbling through a dark tunnel, naming things as I discover them).
The challenge is, showing how the trick works without spoiling the magic. Going from amateur (one who does for love) to expert (one who does from experience) without losing the joy of writing.
“There is nothing more disenchanting to man, than to be shown the springs and mechanism of an art.” – Robert Louis Stevenson
Don’t be disappointed or discouraged once you see how the tricks work. That doesn’t make them any less magic or powerful, because the truth is, magic is not what’s performed or how. Magic is what happens when the viewer’s imagination engages with the material being presented.
Love it or hate it…
Reviews have been mixed – while some people really seem to like it, others have very strong opinions about how terrible the book is. And that’s unfortunate. I knew it would be a big, challenging book, so I tried to cajole and entreat readers at the beginning, that this book would take intention and discipline to get through to all the good stuff and really learn it.
Unfortunately, many reviewers didn’t enjoy these warnings or explanations and felt that I should have gotten to the main content quickly without any story-telling, metaphor or preamble. Perhaps they have a point: but if they didn’t like the beginning, they probably won’t like the end either.
It’s only been a few weeks, so I’m trying not to let these reviews bother me, time will tell whether or not the writing style was a mistake or a calculated gamble. Feel free to give it a shot and let me know what you think of it, or download the free companion workbook if you just want the bullet points.
I’m a philosophy dropout with a PhD in Literature. I covet a cabin full of cats, where I can write fantasy novels to pay for my cake addiction. Sometimes I live in castles.