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Sunday, 24 November 2013

Back to Creative Writing School, by Bridget Whelan, Reviewed.

A writing manual that sets out to encourage and inspire, but that also gives the reader tools to use, examples to learn from, and exercises that will help embed the lessons. As a writer of some experience, I generally don’t gravitate toward books on basic technique. I’m pleased I made this one an exception.

Concise, witty, informed and accessible, this is a book that guides would-be writers through the skill sets and pitfalls of creative writing. Bridget Whelan’s writing style is inviting and friendly without straying into the uncomfortable intimacy that a casual approach can sometimes involve. She presents her lessons in small chunks of entertainingly written advice gleaned from experience of writing and of teaching writing students. And she provides exercises that are well thought out and manageable whilst retaining a challenging element designed to make the reader really consider what it is they are being asked to do.

Set out in 3 ‘Terms’, each split into 10 ‘Lessons’, the text takes the reader through those elements of creative writing that most matter. Whilst each subject and topic is dealt with seriously, the writing style allows her sense of humour to come through and engage the reader in a way that makes the whole easily managed.

I particularly liked her sections on humour: in fact parts of it had me laughing out loud. Her sections on horror give a real feel for the genre. The selected samples used to illustrate certain points are always clear and pertinent, showing the best, or the worst, of writing style.


This is a book that will gently and surely lead the would-be writer through the process of approaching and creating imaginative writing. I thoroughly recommend what is an enjoyable, encouraging and inspiring read. And, now, if you don’t mind, I’ll end this review so I can get on with some of the stories that are currently fighting for my attention, having been inspired by this book!
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