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The Art of War for Writers
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The Art of War for Writers

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4.3 of 5 stars 4.30  ·  rating details  ·  830 ratings  ·  123 reviews
Strategies and Tactics for the Master NovelistSuccessfully starting and finishing a publishable novel is often like fighting a series of battles. You not only have to work hard to shape memorable characters, develop gripping plots, and craft dazzling dialogue, but you also have to fight against self-doubts and fears. And then there's the challenge of learning to navigate t...more
ebook, 272 pages
Published January 1st 2012 by Writer's Digest Books (first published November 11th 2009)
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(showing 1-30 of 2,175)
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Ien Nivens
42 pages in, Bell confirms much of the thinking I've come around to over time about writing. Common sense expressed uncommonly well.
Sheryl Nantus
I'll admit it - I'm a writing book whore. Every visit to my B&N includes a dash to the reference section to see if there's something there that may help me become a better writer.

This is definitely one of those books. I've read and re-read it a number of times, if only to drill some of the good advice into my thick skull. If you're looking for a good book to lay out the art and the business of writing in short, edible chunks, this is it.

I'd love to get it in ebook form, but... too expensive!...more
T.E. George
SIBELLA GIORELLO once closed a note of encouragement to me with a word about how writing was like warfare. Her last thought was, “Lock and Load brother!”

James Scott Bell picks up on this idea in this great little manual for every foot soldier whose weapon is a pen or keyboard. The title comes from the much studied, Sun Tzu, a Chinese general who recorded his observations of the art of warfare between 400 and 320 B.C.

This is a brutally honest and to-the-point primer on everything writing. James...more
Cari
Writers never stop learning their craft. There's always a way to be better, to make a story tighter, a fresh way to grab a reader by the nuts and jerk them around until the very last punctuation mark. No matter how long I've been writing, no matter how many days I have that make me think I'm "good," there's always something else out there that can help me improve. Even if it's only a short sentence buried in 200 pages, that single sentence is gold, another weapon to add to my arsenal. Maybe it's...more
Leslie Lindsay
Really, really loved this book! I have a "thing" with reading books devoted to the art of writing...I would much rather teach myself how to write by reading some really good fiction, or at least works I can relate to as a writer and reader. I figure that we only have so much time and when there's a free moment, it should be devoted to writing.

Well, as usual, this book set me straight. While this book is not exactly a how-to, it gives so much good advice, ideas, and more. I have several pages do...more
Gyula
First I found a little uncomfortable that the book is a series of earlier blog posts. (They may have been edited, may not, I didn’t check it out.) But later I forgot about it because of the great content.

Usually I find a writing book worth the money if I learn something valuable from it. Well, I learned a lot of good stuff from Mr Bell. A few examples:
- I started to plan my writing time, and to stick to a weekly quota. I do it for a few weeks only, but in this way I managed to finish two short s...more
Roni Loren
I'm discovering that I just kind of love everything James Scott Bell has to say about writing. His advice is always to the point and eminently practical, and he gives great examples to boot. This is an easy, fast read but it's filled with great nuggets of wisdom. The last section is more focused on writers who are still aspiring to publication. But I found the first two parts, especially the section focused on craft to be chock full of tips I wanted to write on index cards and pin up around my o...more
Suzanne
I tend to lump writing books into two categories, the inspirational anyone-can-write stuff and the technical understand-your-craft stuff. Instead, this is inspirational understand-your-craft stuff. It's kind of brilliant.

The first section, Reconnaissance, offers ways to mentally prepare for a writing career. Stay hungry, but never appear desperate. Develop improvement programs for aspects of your writing so that you're always learning, even after you're agented and published. Don't compare your...more
Kathy Davie
A non-fictional interpretation of Sun Tzu's The Art of War as applied to writing fiction.

Publishers are not interested in publishing a novel. They want to publish novelists, writers who can build readerships and make money for the company over the long term. You need to position yourself as someone who can deliver the goods.

Does this mean not writing what you love?

No. But write what you love with eyes wide open.


And that's just the start...it's a buy. If you write, you want to beg, borrow, or ste...more
La Katie
HERE THERE BE SPOILERS


Five Things About...The Art of War for Writers

1. This is not a hippy 'write from your heart' kind of book. If that's what you're looking for, pick up 'Bird by Bird' or 'The Tao of Writing.' It's about what it takes to be a professional writer.

2. Every now and then you read something that actually tells it like it is for writers. This does that extremely effectively. It isn't overloaded with cynicism, but it does mean to speak to those who intend to live off their words.

3. I...more
David
This book is extremely useful for any aspiring writer for the sheer volume of tips that James Scott Bell provides here. While most of it consists of quotes from other writers regarding whatever topic is being discussed, it is still handy for two reasons: James does put a lot of his own thoughts and experiences in it, and the quotes are organized in ways you couldn't easily find on the internet, though you could probably find each quote individually. Based primarily (and loosely) off of Sun Tzu's...more
Eric Wright
Bell's suggestions and interviews with other writers are extremely helpful to me, as a writer. As I read I found myself returning to my work in progress to make corrections or changes.

The only problem with the book was that I had it on Kindle and could not, as is my habit underline, for later review and use. I know some people make notes in Kindle, but I find a tablet very awkward to use as compared to a print book. I'll need to go and buy a copy.

In the interview section he listed many authors...more
Riley
Gifted to me by a friend. Great overview of the entire process -- from passion to publication -- for any new/young writers. The first half is about bigger picture stuff (philosophies and techniques), which I find more inspiring. The second half is more specific (exercises and industry procedures), which is valuable but not new to me. I did feel reinvigorated from reading it, and I do plan to buy a copy for certain people.

Note: It's definitely geared for fiction writers, and novelists specificall...more
Grace Wagner
This book is a really interesting adaptation of Sun Tzu's famous work with a literary twist. It approaches writing a book like a battle. From mental preparation to tactics to what to do after you've "won," it covers the entire experience of writing a novel. It does tend to be overarching and big-picture oriented, but the author does a good job of using concrete examples from real books to illustrate his points. It's full of encouragement and big ideas. It get's you to stop and think, then start...more
Tim Knox
Mandatory reading in most businesses. I wish someone woud make a movie.
Merce Cardus
Helpful insights for writing warriors. Easy to read. http://bit.ly/10lK4Yt
Kym McNabney
I had heard others mention THE ART OF WAR FOR WRITERS: FICTION WRITING STRATEGIE, TACTICS, AND EXERCISES by JAMES SCOTT BELL, and to be honest, I resisted purchasing it. I don’t always believe all the hype. That is until I spotted this tiny book at a writing conference a few years back. I finally relented and made the decision to purchase it. Still, it sat on my shelf of books to be read. Now, years later, I finally read it.

Wow! I do believe that God gives you what you need, just when you need...more
Angela Blount
This may be the single best resource on writing craft I've found to date.

I'd heard a great many glowing things about the skill, wisdom, and artistry of James Scott Bell; and this book in particular. I now realize it essentially contains all of the information it took me 2 years to accumulate through the writing guild I joined. Part field guide, part workbook, part exercise manual--this book ought to be one of the first craft books in the arsenal of every serious writer, regardless of genre.

Thou...more
Jeremiah
I will start with what The Art of War for Writers (AoWW) says of itself:

“You’ll find tactics and strategies for idea generation and development, character building, plotting, drafting, querying and submitting, dealing with rejection, coping with unrealistic expectations, and much more.

With timeless, innovative, and concise writing reflections and techniques, The Art of War for Writers is your roadmap to victory.” (full description can be found on Amazon)

Sounds extremely useful, right? A “roadm...more
Amanda Stevens
The usefulness of this book depends on how many craft books one has read before. Some of these tips are nothing new (backstory and how not to use it, character inner conflict, foreshadowing the plot), and many of them aren't too deep. They can't be, since each "chapter" is more of a blog-post-length quick tip. But just as I started thinking thus, I would read something like the chapter on story and redemption and simply have to share it with writer friends.

One small issue--learn point of view e...more
Amy
I liked this book. When I first saw it in the bookstore I was so inspired by it. I took it home and for me it was a bit anticlimactic only since right now I am working on nonfiction rather than fiction writing. However, I highly recommend this for any fiction writer. Bell writes in a good coach, no nonsense, supportive style. Basically setting up how to write a fiction book that will sell. Actually after reading this it made me give some serious thought to delving into my fiction writing too. We...more
Frank Deschain
I checked out this book from the library, but I plan to purchase a copy sometime soon. The book is full of useful ways of looking at characterization, story-making, taking inspiration from one's favorite books, plays, movies, etc. It's split into 3 sections and the layout gives solid advice on writing prompts, exercises, etc. A good boost of inspiration in a writing book.

P.S. The only thing keeping this book from being 5 stars is it focuses on the traditional method of publishing. This coming ye...more
Tessa Low
This has been extremely motivational. It clarified to me many of the foggy aspects of the publishing industry. The writing tips gave me a great deal of insight into issues with my writing whose roots I couldn't pinpoint. The writing in this book turns rather dramatic at certain points, particularly for a nonfiction book, but then again it is written by a fiction author, for fiction authors. This is also what kept me from feeling like the book was force-feeding me information--something from whic...more
Adam Gent
The best book I have read, to date, on how to become a writer. It opened my eyes in the first three chapters about what it was going to take to write the books I had in my head.

If you are an aspiring novelist or writer, buy this book now.
Darla McDavid
Jun 29, 2012 Darla McDavid rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: new writers, fiction writers, novelists
Bell writes in a friendly yet no-nonsense style. It was hard to put this one down, and when I did, I was inspired to write or plan or smile about the writing life. The book is packed with advice from Bell, plus he includes examples from well-known books and words of wisdom from successful writers.

Kudos also to the book design. Its red, black, and white color scheme, the Chinese art and letters (Sun Tzu wrote The Art of War, 400-320 B.C.), the handy size (my copy is 5.5 x 7), and other details a...more
Tracy Groot
This book has shot to the top of my must-reads for fiction writers. Non-fictionaires can reap as well--not sure I've read a book on the craft with this much value between the covers; it's like you went to a top drawer month-long writers' conference. (Not that it took a month to read--I couldn't put it down, actually.) My other must-reads for fiction writers include King's On Writing, Lamott's Bird by Bird, and Bradbury's Zen in the Art of Writing--but James Scott Bell's little gem...I'm telling...more
Kate Robertson
Excellent read. This book covers motivation, technique and tips for writer plus sections on agents and publishers. It's no nonsense style is very appealing. I lived the short chapters . It's easy to pick up and read bits at a time. Definitely one I will read again.
Marcus Lopes
This is a book that every writer, published or not, should have on their bookshelf.
Heidi
Something about this book really irritated me. Perhaps because the title is reminiscent of my all time favorite book on creativity, "The war of Art" by Steven Pressfield. Also the format: very short chapters focusing on one small part of the writing process. But whereas Pressfield's book is actually knock-it-out-of-the-park creative, this is nothing but a rehash of clichés and platitudes (sorry if you consider the same) on various aspects of the writing life. In my opinion, the only thing it ha...more
Christine
A resourceful standby. Tie it to your writing journal.
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Jim is a former trial lawyer who now writes and speaks full time. He is the bestselling author of Try Dying, No Legal Grounds, Presumed Guilty, Glimpses of Paradise, Breach of Promise and several other thrillers. He is a winner of the Christy Award for Excellence in Inspirational Fiction, and was a fiction columnist for Writers Digest magazine. He has written two books in the Writers' Digest serie...more
More about James Scott Bell...
Plot & Structure: Techniques and Exercises for Crafting a Plot That Grips Readers from Start to Finish Revision & Self-Editing: Techniques for Transforming Your First Draft Into a Finished Novel Presumed Guilty Write Your Novel From The Middle: A New Approach for Plotters, Pantsers and Everyone in Between Try Dying

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