Rereading this right after finishing One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest was surreal . . . I heard Douglas Spaulding’s story in Chief’s voice on almost every page. A lovingly told, nostalgic and poetic chronicle of a magical summer and its cure. This year I’m only reading novels I’ve already read before — no new fiction unless it’s for work — and One Flew led me to Dandelion Wine, which is leading me to Little House on the Prairie. Back and back and back to see how limitations lead to innovations, whether the context is an asylum, a pre-modern childhood, or a lonely, physical frontier.
Letters from the Editor
A few years ago I developed a score sheet for a manuscript contest I was judging, and a couple of weeks ago I had occasion to share it with a fledgling critique group formed by members of the St. Louis Writers Guild. I took a closer look at it today and decided it needed tweaking. Lo, I present to you a new thing: a score sheet to copy and tweak at your pleasure and leisure. Feel free to revise this for chapters, scenes, full manuscripts, lucid dreams, whatever floats your boat.
If you’d like, send your first five pages for a test run before submitting to agents or contests — $50 gets you a glimpse of how you might stack up against the competition.My Two Cents Editing_ 5-Page Assessment Score Sheet
Reading this book cover to cover is like reading a chapter a week of Lord of the Flies or To Kill a Mockingbird in high school English class with a teacher who grades your reading journal and breaks down every paragraph out loud so everyone can really learn to Appreciate Literature. I do not recommend approaching it that way if you want to maintain momentum.
I DO, however, recommend using this book as a diagnostic and prescriptive tool. Its table of contents makes it an accessible handbook for improving your fiction once you’ve identified your weak spots.
The examinations and analyses throughout the book are thorough and specific and excellent for the writer who wants an intensive course in Getting It Right. This is a solid resource; I’d shelve it in Reference with the other hefty tomes kept safe within sight of the librarian’s desk.