Chuck Palahniuk's new book, Consider This: Moments In My Writing Life After Which Everything Was Different (out now) is largely a writer's guide for beginning fiction authors. There's a nuts and bolts review of fundamental story components like the passage of time, the establishment of authority, clear and effective dialogue, and the creation and maintenance of tension. That primer is paired with guidance about how to use those and other building blocks to make your writing more powerful. It's a MFA-quality "intro to writing" course at an affordable price.
The information is undoubtedly useful for professional writers. However, the book is also an entertaining and engaging read for a broader audience. In addition to the instruction, Consider This is part memoir, complete with stories over the span of Palahniuk's career, including his adventures on tour, and a discussion of his process and where he's found material over the years. (The tour stories alone could be a novel.)
The Fight Club author's writing tips are helpful and straight-forward, making them accessible for everyone. You will find similar instruction in formal writing manuals. The personal stories are fascinating, darkly funny, and at times disturbing, much like Palahniuk's work in general. He makes it clear that the life of a professional author is difficult, from the creative process to finding an audience for the finished product. It's a wonder anyone survives the gauntlet.
Reading the book provides provides new ways to look at the world around you that even a layman can find helpful. The writing exercises Palahniuk offers seem like a fun way to stretch one's creative limits. The book has no filler. It's only 230+ pages, and there would have been no objection here if he had decided to go on for 100 more.
Consider This offers readers a large toolbox with a variety of items that can make them both better writers and readers. That's why it's going on our bookshelf next to Stephen King's On Writing, Neil Gaiman's Art Matters, and Felicia Day's Embrace Your Weird. It's always helpful to be able to reach in and grab a new tool to shake up your creative process. Recommended.
An insightful look into the mechanics of writing. (pic via amazon.com)
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