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The Writer's Advantage: A Tookit for Mastering Your Genre Paperback – September 1, 2014
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About the Author
Laurie Scheer is a former vice president of programming for WE: Women’s Entertainment. She has worked as an assistant, development girl, and producer for ABC, Viacom, Showtime, and AMC-Cablevision. She has also been involved in producing digital-based forms of entertainment. Laurie has been an instructor at numerous universities across the U.S. from UCLA to Yale. She is the author of a book about working in Hollywood entitled Creative Careers in Hollywood and her DVD How to Pitch and Sell Your Screenplay has been a perennial favorite at screenwriting events. As a professional speaker, she appears at annual industry conferences. She has served as a judge for numerous screenplay competitions, film festivals, and the International Emmys. She is part of the faculty at UW-Madison’s Continuing Studies Writing Department and the Director of their annual Writers’ Institute. In 2013 she became the Managing Editor of The Midwest Prairie Review Journal.
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Now, I had to start that way to head off the itchy keyboard fingers that so love to jump on reviewers that don't review by their standards. But a comment about a non-functional TOC on a Kindle book can go nowhere else but here. Should it affect the score? You bet. This book is written by someone who, in her words, is "uniquely qualified" to inform us about "transmedia;" transmedia refers to all the different ways people receive content. Like for instance: a Kindle.
So, dear author, fix the TOC and I'll change my rating. It's all the leverage I have; I'm going to use it. While you're at it, go through your book and remove all commands to fully justify the text. You don't need them anyway because Amazon in their--what's the word I'm looking for? "Wisdom"? No, definitely not "wisdom." Let's see...inertia! Yeah, that's the word. Without thought, without reflection, without noticing that at larger font sizes the kindle display looks something like this:
Frankly______ my__________ dear,
just______don't___ give________ a
See, that's full justification at the larger font sizes--incredibly annoying--easily fixed by using left justification. BUT, Amazon doesn't give you that choice; BUT, there's a plugin for a program called Calibre that will adjust your kindle to allow left justification (I know this works because those free gutenberg books are left justified--with the Calibre "kindle collections plugin"). Which is good (except it may not work with all kindle--research), BUT, nearly all the authors of Kindle books embed in their ebooks the full-justification command. Why? INERTIA. "It's always been done this way, so I don't need to notice the problems it causes in this new media; I just need to continue along this rut to where?--no need to look, I've got inertia on my side!"
Just to be clear, if you want left justified text on your kindle, you have to BOTH modify your kindle and find a book that is left justified. Good Luck.
A working TOC, left justification--these should be standard. Any author who gives a damn about their readers will provide these, at a minimum.
I will change my rating if you only fix the TOC. But if you also fix the justification problem, I'll use you as THE example of what good authors do. Everywhere the subject remotely comes up, I'll mention you and your book as what's right with the world. I can't do more than that. I think that's pretty good.
Anyone, please let me know if this is fixed.
Amazon, you could fix this. Don't you care?
Here is a breakdown of the book. It's divided into three sections. Kind of a “before your write, while you write and after you write” layout to it. Section one entitled “Know What Has Been Done Before”. In this first phase of the book Scheer encourages you to fully understand what you are writing and why. She covers such relevant topics such as transmedia. Think about what Disney does when they release a movie. They make books, video games, comic books...you name it, that is transmedia. You will analyze how today's audiences ingest media and why you should care.
Section two called “Arming Yourself”. Here you will begin to write your project and really nail down the genre, focusing on creating something unique. You're forced to ask lots of questions of your story. By answering these questions, your story becomes focused and more interesting. You'll learn about elements you need to add to the tale. You will do lots of research. (a.k.a. watch shows within your genre so that you will fully understand the principles and formulas of it.) If you do all the exercises in this section you should pretty much be an expert in the genre you are writing in or about.
Section three “Getting Your Work Out into the World” is the shortest section in the book but still covers lots of ground. This is the part of the book where you go out and market what you've written. Learn how to prepare for meetings, what you need to have when taking a meeting and tips on pitching. It goes over the business side of writing.
“The Writers Advantage” is a quick read, yet it's absolutely loaded with information to keep you on track and laser focused. I recommend reading the book straight through first, then go back again, but slowly. This time do the exercises and research Scheer recommends. By reading it once through I believe you will be able to comprehend the big picture and the second time through you will be much more focused on your goal as a writer.
It can be used as a reference book too. Read the “How to Use This Book” section and it goes into great detail which sections you should read depending on where you are at with a writing project. Think of this book a toolkit. It is truly that. You will acquire tools to become a better writer no matter what you pen. I dare say by using the tools in this book your grocery list will become more exciting to read. OK...that may be a bit of an exaggeration, but nonetheless your writing WILL improve and you will be one step closer to being the successful writer I know you want to be.
Review copy supplied by MWP.