This is the first review of a non-fiction work that I’ve written so please forgive me if I stumble a bit. I’m used to talking about plot and character and setting and that sort of thing so, as you can see, this is uncharted territory. That said, I do read a lot of books like this. And what I inevitably find is that the work is often mediocre to terrible. There are a ton of books out there written by “authors” who don’t seem to have written anything but writing instruction manuals and not only do they generally throw credibility right out the window, they toss quality and usefulness out along with it. But every great once in a while you come across a gem, a piece that has been penned by a writer that has written stories and novels with some degree of success and that brings knowledge and veracity to the table and produces something worth reading, often even worth going back to repeatedly for reference.
In Writers on Writing Volume 1 – 4 Omnibus: An Author’s Guide, Crystal Lake Publishing gives us just such a book and they do so in spades, bringing together a collection of essays from an eclectic gathering of authors from all walks of life and every branch of the profession you can imagine. Here you’ll find excellent guidance and advice from horror authors, poets, screenwriters and editors, all of whom excel in their chosen field and who bring together years of experience and talent culminating in a referential volume that you’ll find yourself turning to again and again in your writing adventures, no matter what kind of writing you do. With articles about pacing from the great Jack Ketchum, poetry advice from horror’s young phenom Stephanie M. Wytovich, a brilliant essay on the relationship between heroes and villains by Paul Kane, and an outstanding piece on setting from J.S. Breukelaar just to name a few, you can’t go wrong with this exceptional collection of wisdom by some of our favorite genre writers, poets, and editors, as well as a great essay on book reviewing by Nerine Dorman.
In addition to those already mentioned, you’ll also find work by such greats as Mercedes M. Yardley, Tim Waggoner, Kealan Patrick Burke, and Lucy A. Snyder. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. When it comes to books like this, you could do much worse, but you couldn’t find much that’s better than this. Every piece in here is rock solid, based on concrete knowledge and experience, and all extremely useful. There is zero fluff to be found here, but you will find a plethora of wisdom on just about any writing subject you can imagine. Highly recommended for both new authors and more experienced authors looking to hone their skills.