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Tools of the Writers Craft Paperback – August 1, 2005
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Superbly practical, filled with terrific exercises, anecdotes and examples. Sands Hall is a beautiful writer and a brilliant teacher. --Max Byrd, author of Grant
Sands Halls love of the written word has inspired hundreds of her students, including many grateful published authors. --Steve Susoyev, author of People Farm
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Top Customer Reviews
Reviewed by C. J. Singh (Berkeley, CA)
In the opening pages, "Making Workshops Work," Sands Hall offers tips on giving optimal feedback as well as responding to mixed feedback on your own manuscript. "A valuable resonance to keep in mind when your head is reeling at the end of a workshop" is that "the Sanskrit root of the verb to judge means to separate the wheat from the chaff (p 11). This section also appears in Writer's Workshop in a Book: The Squaw Valley Community of Writers on the Art of Fiction, edited by Alan Cheuse and Lisa Alvarez. Sands Hall is a longtime teacher at Squaw Valley Conference as well as the University of Iowa's Writers' Summer Festival.
On page 15: "Some authors maintain that they are not interested in theme, or that if there is one, it is not `purposeful': this is disingenuous. I admire Hall's bold assertion on theme -- it contrasts with Janet Burroway's equivocation in her widely used textbook in college courses Writing Fiction: A Guide to Narrative Craft (8th Edition). (See my review on amazon.)
In the section on "Some Essentials," Hall explains the familiar telling-showing, simile-metaphor, and summary-scene distinctions. This section introduces some of the 25 exercises included at the end of the book, exercises that greatly enhance its self-teaching features.
The most detailed and sophisticated discussion is in the section "Point of View," constituting nearly a third of the 266-page text.Read more ›
I confess that I always feel skeptical when an instructor requires his or her own book to be read for a class. In this case, however, I became a believer. She lays it all out so clearly with examples from published works to illustrate each of her points. One can quarrel with just how far to go in applying her advice, as with the advice of any book of this kind. All in all, Sand's views are pragmatic and focused on inspiring readers to keep turning the pages.
What makes the difference between the good and the bad in such guides? Obviously different people hold different opinions, but I eschew any guide that pitches itself as "how to write," or "follow my instructions and you'll be a writer." Such guides bring to mind the "become a great artist" books that one found advertised on television in the 70s or on the backs of magazines, as if there is only one sort of "good" art or "good" book. Useful texts instead examine the tools and techniques that make for good writing without pointing to any particular style, offering a breath of examples of the successful use of each. Elizabeth George's "Write Away," Stephen King's "On Writing," and Lamont's "Bird by Bird" all come to mind. These authors do not insist you write like they do, but instead offer examples of many styles from many authors. Ms. Hall's book certainly deserves a place beside these excellent works.
"Tools of Writer's Craft" goes from the mundane but all too challenging area of building character to such often sublime subjects as point of view. In each case, Ms. Hall offers fine examples all offered with a rye and often self deprecating wit. As far as seeking imitators, the author here straight forwardly presents her particular biases of style and then goes on to present many examples from works far afield of her own. Particular attention should be given to the long and carefully constructed list of exercises presented and offered as ways to experiment.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This book is an excellent tool to help writer's improve their skills.Published 10 months ago by Geoffrey W. Chance
havent had time to digest it completely-hoping it will give me hints in writing my bookPublished 18 months ago by R. J. Funk
As both a writer and a teacher, I turn to Sands Hall's "Tools of the Writer's Craft" over and over again. Read morePublished on October 25, 2013 by Nathan Sinclair
$999.98 may seem high for a how to book by a live avatar, but if you have the juice and can absorb Hall's magic, rainbow's end may be within your grasp. Read morePublished on June 13, 2011 by TH Taylor
I've taken a class here and there, read a little bit on the subject, but nothing has come close to the craft of writing like this book. Read morePublished on October 30, 2007 by J. M. Boyd
The author uses many analogies from theater to put together a way of thinking about writing and reading which can clarify many of the issues which tend to dog fiction writers. Read morePublished on October 19, 2007 by Amazon Customer
I've taken several classes from Sands, and she is the only writing instructor that I've come back to repeatedly. Read morePublished on October 6, 2006 by tonym
Ms. Hall is an excellent teacher and this book is a great resource. I use the tools I learned from her book (and her Iowa Summer Writing Festival classes) in fiction and... Read morePublished on June 25, 2006 by M. Levine