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Tools of the Writers Craft Paperback – August 1, 2005

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Editorial Reviews

Review

Reading this book is like learning how a juggler juggles. Invaluable for... anyone giving or taking a writing workshop. --Lynn Freed, author of The Curse of the Appropriate Man<br /><br />Superbly practical, filled with terrific exercises, anecdotes and examples. Sands Hall is a beautiful writer and a brilliant teacher. --Max Byrd, author of Grant<br /><br />Sands HallÂ’s love of the written word has inspired hundreds of her students, including many grateful published authors. --Steve Susoyev, author of People Farm

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 Hall’s 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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Product Details

  • Paperback: 298 pages
  • Publisher: Moving Finger Press; 2nd edition (August 7, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0972722572
  • ISBN-13: 978-0972722575
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #385,321 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By C. J. Singh on April 5, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
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Reviewed by C. J. Singh (Berkeley, CA)
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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.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By J. A Magill VINE VOICE on January 31, 2006
Format: Paperback
Bookstores, on-line and off, are awash in "writers guides," a few excellent, many fair, and all too many simply dreadful. Ms. Hall's "Tools of the Writer's Craft," stands out as belonging in the first category worthy of close examination by writers both novice and experienced.

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.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Nathan Sinclair on October 25, 2013
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As both a writer and a teacher, I turn to Sands Hall's "Tools of the Writer's Craft" over and over again. It is crisp, funny, precise, easy to navigate, and a joy to pass on to my students.
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Great book for assisting aspiring fiction writers with mastering point of view, dialogue, setting, tension, action, environment, props, and scene work. Sands Hall draws from her training as an actress to help create scenes that fully engage readers. She is a demanding, charismatic instructor, via this remarkable book AND in person, and I recommend that writers who have the chance to learn from her directly seize the opportunity. I'm grateful to Sands for her advice on key scenes from my novel. I hope she will be returning to the Iowa Summer Writing Festival for many years to come. Thank you, Sands, and best wishes.

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.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By J. M. Boyd on October 30, 2007
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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. The author gets right into the heart of what makes the written word fly off the page and into the readers imagination. The book is broken up into easily digestible chapters and she sites numerous examples to back up her opinions.

The book is definitely about craft and not the fundamentals of writing which, is good if your looking to get past the basics. The narrative is quite laid back and doesn't try to get overly high-brow with the topic.

After reading it, I have a greater appreciation for all that goes into crafting a story. And too, I can look at novels or short stories with a greater understanding and more critical eye, which helps to appreciate the reading even more.

Overall, I was very happy and feel I've been let in on some great secrets for contemporary writing.
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