The Writing Book (1990)

This is a how-to-write book without a single rule about writing. Rather than giving abstract advice about how to write, the book takes you step-by-step through the actual process. It begins with many ideas for getting started, works through how these starts can be structured towards a story, and then shows how character, point of view, dialogue etc can build a sketchy early draft into a rich piece of fiction.

Each chapter covers an aspect of fiction – character, point of view, etc – and has three parts:

1. An overview of the aspect being explored

2. Short excerpts from published fiction to show the wide range of approaches open to a writer

3. Exercises that build progressively on each other. The task of each exercise is quite specific and designed to let the writer always work from the basis of what they already know.

The Writing Book starts with the belief that each of us has a unique and valuable voice that can be heard – but only if we can find ways to allow it to speak.

Chapter Headings

1. Getting Started – The whispering voices of advice

2. Clustering – The advantages of clusters / Ways of clustering

3. Character – What are characters? / "Characterisation"

4. Point of view – What is "point of view?" / The choices a writer has / "Consistent" point of view

5. Voice – "Good style / Voice and point of view / Your own voice, or a borrowed voice? / Cliché

6. Dialogue – What is dialogue for? / Dialogue that sounds right / Attributions / Punctuation

7. Description – Do you need descriptions? / What to put in, what to leave out? / Adjectives and adverbs / Image as description / Description as attitude

8. Design – "Plot" or " design" / Suspension of disbelief / "Convincing" plots / Ways to think about design

9. Revision – What is revision? / How much is enough? / Why is revision hard?

10. Submitting a manuscript – Why publish? / The publisher's desk / Physical presentation of stories and novels / Protecting your work / Agents / The bottom line.

The Writing Book is published in Australia by Allen & Unwin.