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The Writer's Little Helper

3.99  ·  Rating Details ·  235 Ratings  ·  45 Reviews
Big Fiction Advice from a Little Book
There is nothing little about the dynamic fiction-writing advice inside "The Writer's Little Helper." With big ideas, time-saving tips, and revision-made-easy charts, James V. Smith, Jr. offers effective guidance in short, easily checklists, Q&As, and practical tools.This book gives you everything you need to:

Create great character
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published February 2nd 2006 by Writers Digest Books (first published December 19th 2005)
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Oct 14, 2009 Christy rated it it was ok
Shelves: writing
There's some good advice in this book, but it seems to be targeted at a fairly specific type of writer (the type for whom writing a bestseller of any kind is more important than the writing itself or than writing about what is meaningful to him/her) and the author is too bossy for my taste.
Jan 14, 2015 Brittany rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Writers with a grasp of structure looking for some editing insights
How I Came To Read This Book: I think I spotted it at a bookstore first, and then when I got my new library card (yeah I've been without in my new city for the last 1.75 years!) on the weekend I decided to pick up some writing manuals.

The Plot: Each two-page spread of this book (sometimes less) covers off a different element of the writing & editing process, although many of the spreads are actually linked (from a vague assessment, I'm assuming the colours on the edges of the pages link up t
Apr 02, 2014 Jamie rated it it was ok
For a book about streamlining your writing skills, this was sure hard to read! It took me forever because my mind kept wandering. Which is odd because It could have been one-third as long. The book was very repetitive and the information was spread out weirdly. The layout of this book made no sense at all. That being said, there was some interesting and useful information buried in there. Not the best "writer's helper" book I've ever read, but I'm glad I read it.
Mar 09, 2014 Bren rated it it was ok
There were helpful tidbits, and there were not-so-helpful parts. Most of the tools presented would be very time intensive, if utilized (ex: Final Ultimate Pacing Tool and REI editing tool). Much of the author's advice sucked the creativity and fun out of writing.
Anthony Valera
Jul 18, 2015 Anthony Valera rated it really liked it
This book is interesting if you're a writer; has many tips that might help you--if you listen--to write better. It's easy to read, and you can move around and read a chapter and then move to another chapter that might interest you; it's not like a novel where you have to read chapters sequentially.
Barry Lillie
Nov 10, 2012 Barry Lillie rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Badly written and contradictory. Poorly presented and everything a self-help book should NOT be.
Oct 14, 2016 Clara rated it really liked it
Helpful if you are looking to write fiction, or are in the process of. It's a practical little book with essential tools and key checklists. If you are in need of guidance or motivation, it is a good little book to read and keep for future reference.
The book is good, especially in motivating the readers. I feel like I can finally get things right.I cannot even wait to apply the things I learn from it.

If there are things that I do not find good in here, these are probably on how I cannot relate on the books, movies, and sitcoms the author keeps on throwing. He keeps using these as examples yet the fact that I do not even know what they are all about makes the lessons indistinct. I also want to point out on how he tells the reader to try inve
Aug 30, 2009 Ty rated it it was amazing
i have read many books about writing, some inspirational, some tactical, some about grammar or plotting or dealing with publishers...this is the first book i have ever read that came across more as a "How to do it" manual. it is perhaps crass and unartistic to assume that it is possible to reduce the craft of writing to a how-to manual, but this author (who has published multiple books) has reduced his field somewhat to give some guidance on how to write "popular" fiction, not the great American ...more
Abby Heidenreich
Nov 14, 2012 Abby Heidenreich rated it it was amazing
Shelves: creative-writing
Don't look at the cover. It's a trick, I say, a trick!
So I've read almost every single fiction writing guide in my local library (Not a very extensive collection) and had been saving this, the most unfashionable book on the shelf, for last. What a fool! How many times have I heard, "Don't judge a book by its cover"? Yet it matters not. I have now read this beautiful, beautiful book.
James V. Smith, I applaud your extensive research and the intuitive conclusions you drew from it, and I thank
Apr 17, 2014 Sarah rated it really liked it
Shelves: writing-help
This is a great book to help a new writer get focused. James Smith doesn't hold your hand and help you along. He's slashing through your manuscript with a vicious red pen. But guess what, he's right. The Ten Scene Tool on page six is worth the whole book. However, while you are feeling inadequate, he does make you laugh:

"Use hopefully the way you would use a gun. If you don't know how to handle it, leave it alone. You wouldn't say, Hopefully you will die. Even when you mean, It is hoped you will
Karen Grikitis
Aug 02, 2016 Karen Grikitis rated it liked it
If you're a fledgling writer and want an in-depth nuts and bolts 'how to' book then 'The Writer's Little Helper' is for you. Arranged in bite-sized chunks of information with bulleted lists, examples and some exercises it is relatively digestible, providing you take your time reading it. It is at the opposite extreme of Stephen King's advice for writers in 'On Writing', which I personally much preferred. The last few chapters in particularly are overly technical for my taste. If I had all this s ...more
Lisa Annesley
Jun 30, 2013 Lisa Annesley rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4.5♥s Highly recommended.

This book is an easy, pleasurable, informative read. It's a little book bursting with tips on everything from sentence comprehension to proposing a blockbuster. I particularly liked the sections on scenes, the first 10,000 words, and the first 1,000 words. I also liked...oh, who am I kidding? I liked it all. The only reason I didn't give it 5♥s was that I struggled a bit with the section on pacing. But that chapter might speak to you, so go for it!
Tony Blenman
Sep 18, 2016 Tony Blenman rated it really liked it
This is a handy book a writer could reference in writing fiction. It has valuable guidelines and tools such as the master story model and the ten-scene tool. Some of the examples given for practice can be very time consuming though. On some occasions it seems like a person is computing math.
I like the push Smith gives for overcoming writer's block. I got the impression though that Smith is implying everyone could have a bestseller, if enough work is done. I disagree on this one.
Jamie (The Title Page)
I have only just started reading this book and already have tons of ideas on how to improve my writing. I am excited thinking about how I will incorporate it into what I am currently working on.

It's a great book, and I know I will use it as a reference in the future.
I definitely recommend that any aspiring writers purchase a hard copy of this and keep it around while they read.
May 13, 2010 Drake rated it it was amazing
Shelves: term-3
A great help in writing and it's a very well written book. This book has and will help me out for a long time on everything about writing. This book has inspired me to write and made me believe that I could write a book. If you are looking to write a book I highly recommend you read this book before you start to write it.

The Writers Little Helper is a How To book.
Nov 07, 2015 Catherine rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Aspiring authors
Recommended to Catherine by: Sales clerk
While the book was interesting I found the overall tone rather condescending, which was rather unappealing. The fact that the targeted audience of the book seems to be aspiring writers it was, in my opinion, a point of failure.

Tone aside, it was a good read and has given me some good starting points to begin looking at taking my writing to the next level.
Dec 09, 2013 RebelChick rated it it was amazing
Shelves: writing
For anyone who wants to be a writer this is a can't miss.

It's the best fiction advice I've ever read it goes though what i was looking for and also stuff i didn't know i needed.

Great book would differently any writer to read it :)
Vicki Tyley
Jan 23, 2013 Vicki Tyley rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Most impressed with The Writer’s Little Helper. It’s easy reading and constructive with lots of useful techniques, but more than that it practices what it preaches. And it is anything but preachy.

Best of the writing craft books I've read recently. Highly recommended.
Jan 02, 2012 Mitchlav rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a decent primer and reference for the do's and don'ts of writing. While not authoritative on the subject matter, I found the advice to be generally sound and often parallelled other books on the subject.
Mar 06, 2014 Maria rated it it was amazing
Shelves: books-i-own
This is the best book on writing I've read. I love all the tips and exercises throughout the book, and the quotes are just spot on! There is not one thing I dislike about this book, and I am happy to recommend it to anyone looking for a how-to-write-book.
Amanda Patterson
Jul 31, 2011 Amanda Patterson rated it it was amazing
This writer's books are a must have for any wanna be writers as well as every writing mentor, teacher, coach out there.
Fiction Writer's Brainstormer is one of my favourite practical writing books of all time.
Aug 26, 2012 Meredith rated it liked it
A handy reference book for quick reminders, but not as inspirational as other books on writing. (BTW, in middle of reading it, while surfing for some other purpose online, I learned I had bougght this 2006 edition when there's a 2011 edition out there. Aargh!)
Molly Owen
Mar 15, 2016 Molly Owen rated it it was amazing
Shelves: writing-advice
This little helper is chock full of reminders. I dig this book out when I'm plotting my next project, when I'm editing my last, when I'm stuck and struggling to move forward. Smith has put together a little gem of a book and best of all it won't take up hardly any room in your computer bag/tote.
Sandy Sopko
Aug 09, 2013 Sandy Sopko rated it it was amazing
Excellent book for writers! Great tips and suggestions, lots of encouragement, new ways of approaching issues, and I especially liked the graphic organizers for developing (or examining) plot structure. A very handy book! Highly recommended!
Oct 15, 2013 Supriya rated it really liked it
Splendid book. Brought from library but i need to buy it. Splendid set of reference lists when crafting a novel
Mar 25, 2012 Steph rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
good book
Dec 12, 2015 Lex rated it it was amazing
Great read to help summarize the little things to keep in mind when trying to write a book. A nice handy reference book as well
Adelaide Metzger
Jun 13, 2012 Adelaide Metzger rated it it was amazing
I LOVE THIS BOOK!! Perfect tools, perfect tips! Use it ALL the time!
Mar 19, 2012 Caitlin rated it it was amazing
Shelves: writing
Not the best book on writing I've ever read, but it's certainly the best short reference there is. Arranged topically and very concise.
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Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the Goodreads database with this name.
Author photo is a pencil illustration "Gotcha!" by Marie Antoinette Kelly of Montana,

James V. Smith, Jr., is breaking out of the conventional publishing world with his latest novel, Prison of the Soul , about a teacher inside a supermax classroom for a state's worst and most violent crim
More about James V. Smith Jr....

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“Story is what happens to people.” 1 likes
“You want to write? Write.

Don't wait for the muse. Write.

Just plant your butt in a chair and write.”
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