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08/02/2007 - BOOK REVIEW: THE WAY OF STORY ? the Craft & Soul of Writing

"BOOK REVIEW: THE WAY OF STORY - the Craft & Soul of Writing"
Author: Cathrine Ann Jones
Book Review by Matthew Terry
Published by: Michael Wiese Productions
ISBN: 1932907327

This book could not come at a worse time for me. In the middle of buying film equipment, trying to put finishing touches on two scripts, editing a friend's screenplay and working through an out-sourcing at my work - the last thing I needed was a book with a lot of "high-falutin'" words and abstract comments when it comes to writing. Just tell me about story and lets get on with it.

That, of course, was my assumption. How pleasantly surprised I was when the book I read was an honest, open and easy read about "Story." I will admit that, sometimes, I want to get away from books that take storytelling to a level of grandiose and mythic proportions. Where I almost tremble with fear when I put pen to paper or digits to keyboard - but this book is not that. This book is a straight-forward and very basic book about story. ALL about story: Character Development, Structure, Dialogue and, of course, Conflict. And more.

Is it a book for "Beginners?" I do not know if I would classify this book as "How to Write a Story 101" - but I can tell you that Ms. Jones's format is one that is very basic and very truthful and that anyone starting to write or an old (unproduced) veteran such as myself can learn something in these pages and can grow as a writer. In some ways I would say this book does an excellent job of reeling in the abstract to get a writer back to the basics and I, frankly, think we all need that once in a while.

Where the book falters, a bit, is in the fact that most every chapter ends with "Exercises" to do. Out of all my classes and many conversations with writers I've never met one person who said that they did the exercises found in books such as these. Most of the time they're too excited and want to move on to the next chapter. I would rather the exercises be moved to the back of the book or removed altogether and replaced with more horror (and not so horror) stories of Ms. Jones's journey from the stage to Hollywood. And yes, dear readers, this book is written by someone who has actually had success in Hollywood and knows what she is talking about.

One other plus in this book is that she fills the book with quotes on writing. Wonderful quotes from all across the spectrum. I will include one of my favorite quotes that she did not include:

"There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit at a typewriter and open a vein." Walter ("Red") Smith - American Sportswriter

Bottom line: Ms. Jones does a wonderful job reminding the reader that it is all about the story. This is a great book for beginners and professionals alike.


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