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Release the Bats: Writing Your Way Out Of It

3.91  ·  Rating details ·  200 ratings  ·  35 reviews

When DBC Pierre burst onto the scene in 2003, he arrived with no particular literary education. Finding he had something to say, he made the journey solo to that place where dreams and demons live, to try and turn feelings into words.

Part biography, part reflection and part practical guide, Release the Bats explores the mysteries of why and how we tell stories, and the cra

Kindle Edition, 224 pages
Published July 5th 2016 by Faber & Faber
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Average rating 3.91  · 
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 ·  200 ratings  ·  35 reviews

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MJ Nicholls
A handbook for those who want to write like DBC Pierre, a one-time Booker Prize writer of black comedies and winner of the Annual Richard Madeley Lookalike Contest seven years running. This was a foul-mouthed and entertaining anti-writing manual livened up with personal reflections and punchdrunk motivational shrieks from a 2AM barroom floor. The actual writing advice is prosaic and tends towards the usual how-to stuff found elsewhere (something that Pierre seems to realise, and yet continues to ...more
This is rather unusual as far as writing guides go. There's a chapter on which drugs work with writing and which don't (as expected, most are only ever useful for the first draft), and the first half of this book seems like it's not directly about writing at all, but rather biographical tidbits that are tangible about the life of a writer. There are certainly better books out there if you want to learn about different writing techniques and heathy habits for fostering a lot of writing. But: I fo ...more
Angus McKeogh
Jan 29, 2017 rated it really liked it
I found this book extremely informative about the art of writing. I think it was great that Pierre was coming from a "non-university trained" background in writing. He seemed to have much better insights into the craft. And he was a very motivating presence as well. I'd recommend this highly to writers working on their craft.
Marcus Hobson
Jul 11, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A no nonsense guide to writing in the modern world by DBC Pierre who won the Booker Prize with his first novel, so he must have a good idea of how it is done.

I enjoyed the frankness of this book and the simple straightforward way the author suggests a good course to chart. He makes good observations and brings in other authors' ideas to help. One concept which is always hard to get across a meaning is "Show not tell". I have heard it said many times in writers groups but only now have a good des
Andrew Marshall
Aug 21, 2016 rated it it was ok
Having shared an agent with DBC Pierre and met him on the staircase case outside (and read his Booker winning novel Vernon God Little), I was drawn to this book which is part biography and part how to write guide. After all, the author had taught himself how to write - by trial and error - and he had a colourful past. So what's not to like?

Sadly quite a lot.... There is not enough biography to be truly understand the man and not enough nuts and bolts to understand his craft. Having said that, it
Owen Townend
I have not read the work of D.B.C. Pierre before. I didn't even know about Vernon God Little, his Mann-Booker prizewinner. To be honest, it was the cover of Release The Bats that first attracted me. Something about a single black bat at the centre of a bright red cover appealed; as if it signified a darker, different approach to the writing craft.

This proved accurate though not quite in the way that I was hoping. This is just as much a Gonzo autobiography as it is a guide to storytelling. The Go
It's probably at least misguided to read a writing guide by an author whose actual books you have not read. Never fear, reader, if you find yourself in the same boat, because you get a reasonable sample of Pierre (not his real name)'s writing style in this volume. To demonstrate sometimes farfetched points, he uses mini-stories of his own. Some of them are good, some of them are okay, all of them are very 'this was written by an extremely white dude'. There's a point of description where he says ...more
Aug 19, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction
Honesty dictates that I begin this review with a confession. This is a book ‘on writing’ unlike any that I have read till date. No, in fact to lend an even more transparent perspective, this book is unlike all the books ‘on writing’ that I have read. I cannot say that I have come out all the more wiser or intuitive after reading this book than from where I was before I opened its cover! “Release The Bats” is more a raucous, rambunctious, rabble rousing exercise in freewheeling spontaneity than a ...more
Lauren Blake
Sep 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing
In the beginning I wasn't too sure how to approach this book -- I'd been told it was a sort of guide to writing, and the last thing I like is being told how to do the one thing I enjoy. I was wary, at first, and almost looked for anything to complain about, a reason to not continue. Accidentally, I pushed through and ended up treating the thing as an actual novel. I imagined Pierre narrating the random events of his life in a sort of detached and blase, but humorous manner. It made the whole thi ...more
Alex Linschoten
Aug 23, 2016 rated it liked it
More like 3.5. Useful advice. Some of the stories were a bit rambling. One reviewer here on Goodreads has said that it might have been better to make two separate books out of this (one for the writing advice, one for the autobiograpy). I wouldn't go quite that far, but DBC Pierre has a unique writing style which took me a while to get used to. Nevertheless, some useful notes on process.
Sep 13, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting. Let's see if it can salvage the unsalvageable...
Nov 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
Among the plethora of how-to-write and how-I-wrote books out there, this one has more to recommend it than most. I have to say I had rather written off DBC Pierre as a one-hit wonder, having read Vernon God Little and some journalism and little else. The press office machinations that led to the perfectly-timed revelations of his having "scammed" someone, thus suggesting his novel was a kind of cosmic atonement by a colourful character, actually left rather a bad taste in the mouth and sent my r ...more
Benjamin Richards
Sep 16, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
There were times where I really didn't like what DBCP had written, I was frustrated, 'why don't you just tell me how to write a goddam book!' And then I got it and it all clicked into place. I was teetering on giving a full 5/5 for this one, but it's not quite a 100% book, it's 90/100, in my opinion.

Inside this book are hidden so many gems, and I have to admit, the author of Vernon God Little has, in this unassuming little book, handed all the keys over to writing a Vernon God Little - all it ta
Aug 04, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: borrowed
I saw this on someone’s list of writing books to read. I have dozens and I baulked at buying it… but voila, the local library came through.
And honestly I would buy my own copy. If only for the tactile bats on the cover…
It’s good. But it’s not your standard writing advice book. He writes little short stories about his life and kind of explains how you could (or couldn’t) write fiction based on the same incident.
It’s often been said that truth or life is stranger than fiction, and I know in my own
Bobbie Darbyshire
Aug 18, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Among the countless books by fiction writers about writing fiction, this was a goody – plenty of insightful advice and lots of inspirational chat, written with enormous passion and panache. I have a few reservations: I’m not a fan of the quick-dash first draft, and I’d warn against swallowing his advice on chapter lengths and what elements each chapter should contain, but otherwise it is good and often brilliant stuff, painfully insightful into us batty writers, chipping away at the coalface of ...more
Jason Mills
This is a happily opinionated guide to the art (if not the business) of being a writer. I found the early autobiographical sections elliptical and a bit bonkers; but then they do address amorphous matters such as why people write and what should or does drive them. If this stuff is sometimes hard to get a handle on, with its wild prose and showers of profanity, it is still valuable and thought-provoking discussion.

From this, the book settles down into more practical matters: structure, character
Brendan Eaux-Ceallachán
Jan 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I want to give this book fewer, maybe 4 stars because, while it's very well written, it's far from a masterpiece. But it *is* a phenomenal masterclass in the art of writing, as well as a practical guide on how to get all the shit from our head to the page. It's practicality makes it inspiring in a way I've not encountered in a long time. Am I gonna write now? Who knows, but I've already caught myself using some of what I learned. We'll see.
Jan 23, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2018, writing
The strangest book about writing I’ve ever read. The only one to include a guide on how various drugs affect the writing process. Some useful insights in a very badly written book. It just goes to show that inspiration and originality can get you so far, but graft is required to get published and to keep on writing.
Jalen Lyle-Holmes
Oct 20, 2018 rated it liked it
I didn't like all the memoiry stuff mixed in and the overblown polemics about how the world works.
I liked how realistic he was about how the writing processed has actually worked for him, rather than an idealised version.
I found interesting the idea of taking any small story as the germ of the writing process
Jun 20, 2017 rated it it was ok
Sorry, couldn't finish it. Just not good timing for me to get into it. I chose the title because a friend of mine had bats in her walls at the time and I thought 'release the bats' - not too worry, neither of us enjoyed the book. Perhaps I'll try again at another time.
Massimo Fiorentino
Dec 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
An excellent handbook for anyone interested in the arts

Whether you are a writer or someone just having an infatuation with the arts, this little gem is worth all of your precious time.
Sonia Bellhouse
Jul 20, 2019 rated it liked it
The cover and title caught my eye. So I read it and its a opinionated guide to writing and I guess if you are prize winning author you are entitled to be opinionated. Was it useful to me personally? Probably not, but the advice might work for you.
Aaron Leyshon
Sep 25, 2019 rated it liked it
I found aspects of DBC Pierre's book refreshing. Particularly the ideas around writer's tools and writing seasons. However the style of writing lost me at times and clarity was often lost in order to show literary prowess.
Joshua Broccoli
Mar 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Top tips from a rad guy on what writing is and how to do good.

Heck yeah, release the bats, baby.
Nov 27, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I loved this little book. I particularly liked the focus on the human condition and importance of the chaos of creation as opposed to scientific truths.
Oct 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Edwin McRae
Jul 30, 2020 rated it it was amazing
The best book on writing I’ve read since Stephen King’s ‘On Writing’ came out!
Dec 06, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
DBC Pierre has written a how-to book/autobiography that mixes anecdotal stories with the knowledge he's gained as a 'self-taught' writer in a way that is both entertaining and informative. I think for those who aspire to be writers or those involved in the creative industry, this book is absolutely full of practical lessons to improve your craft.

Though some may find his style of writing too philosophical if they were expecting a simple how-to book, I think it forces one to actually think about w
Sep 10, 2016 rated it it was amazing
A strange mix. I loved the most of it but there were moment when I didn't like it at all. Having said that, 80% was pure gold for me. As a practicing writer (as yet unpublished) and teacher of creative writing, his analysis of the writing process and the techniques he uses are second to none. There's a chapter near the end in which he discusses/explains plot which had me completely gripped. Excellent detailed analysis and advice.
The 20% I didn't like? The chapter on drugs. One word. Naff.
Charlotte Nash
This is hard. I didn't get to the end. It was such hard work that I wasn't interested in going further. The voice and insights are really unique, but I find the style a real slog to make sense of. As a book on how to write, there's many better out there. Might be worth it if you enjoy philosophical meanderings and grappling with difficult (but potentially rewarding) prose. I don't ever think I'll be that person, and certainly not at this time in my life.
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DBC Pierre is an Australian-born writer currently residing in Ireland. Born Peter Warren Finlay, the "DBC" stands for "Dirty But Clean". "Pierre" was a nickname bestowed on him by childhood friends after a cartoon character of that name.

Pierre was awarded the Booker Prize for fiction on 14 October 2003 for his novel Vernon God Little.

He is the third Australian to be so honoured, although he has

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