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Noble's Book of Writing Blunders

"If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot." - Stephen King

I don't think Stephen King was talking about writing aid books. He more likely was referring to a writer's need to read a lot of the kinds of books that they are writing (poetry, fiction, non-fiction, etc.). It certainly doesn't hurt to bulk up that learning with some reading about writing though.

Personally, I have found some writing books to be more helpful than others. I LOVE Kathy Steinemann's Writer's Lexicon and recently bought her Writer's Body Lexicon. Monica Wood's Description is a handy read. The Rural Setting Thesaurus (and other thesauruses) by Angela Ackerman and Beca Puglisi is a handy tool as is Character Reactions From Head to Toe by Valerie Howard.

Noble's book of blunders was a reasonable tool. While I would not have placed it at the top of my "handiest books" list with The Writer's Lexicon I did enjoy it and found the tips and tricks within the pages to be helpful, concise, and true.

That being said, the title of the book (Noble's Book of Writing Blunders and How to Avoid Them) is a little bit misguiding. While I did find each of Noble's "blunders" to be very true (many of them were ones pointed out between some of the other books mentioned), he didn't do that well explaining "how to avoid them." One of the things I love about my favorite writing aid book, The Writer's Lexicon, is that Steinemann not only explains the problem but gives the author a plethora of fixes for the problem. Do you overuse "laugh" or "smile"? Here's a paragraph on how to replace them. Here's a list of adjectives to describe each one. And here are some synonyms for laugh and smile.

Noble does an excellent job of explaining when his "blunders" are appropriate for use in books. For example (this may or may not have been in the book as a blunder I cannot remember), you shouldn't overuse words. Starting a sentence with the same word as the previous two sentences is a bad idea. Using the same word five times over (unless its a, and, or, etc.) in two sentences with be a red light for your book. UNLESS: you are emphasizing something. There is some room to take poetic license. I did have a problem with how most of Noble's "blunders" revolved around grammar and rhythm. Many of them were great. Others seemed repetitive of something he had already said. However, he did a great job of essentially saying: don't do this because it will affect the rhythm of your book, and how your book sounds is important!

I would have loved to see better illustrations from Noble. This is something I often find with writing books, particularly those that aren't as widely known or by popular authors. They lack decent illustrations of the principles they are trying to explain. More often than not, Noble's illustrations were so exaggerated that it made it seem as though the better option was the one he was advising the reader against. I found myself more than once thinking, "actually, that other one sounds better."

One thing I did want to note (which is highly unrelated to the quality of the book) is the cover!! Noble's cover and interior design is adorable. I loved not only the cute little cover but the way the same designs were carried on throughout the book at the beginning of each chapter. In fact, there was a part of me that picked up the book thinking "this one looks like a good quality book" because of that cover. It is an important thing to think about as an author whether you are considering self-publishing or working with a publishing company to design your cover. Take for example, Description by Monica Wood.

I found the book to be more well-written with better illustrations. I even bought myself a copy. Neither Description nor Noble's Book of Writing Blunders are well-known books nor are they marketed well. Neither is written by a popular author with a huge fan base or a collection of well-known novels. If you were to go into a bookstore or a library with no other knowledge about the books except for what was written on the back, which would you pick up? Personally, I would choose Noble's Book of Blunders.

Overall, the book was reasonable. Many of the lessons were ones I had already learned via other writing aid books or my own editing but I did feel it would be a valuable tool for other writers. I only wished I had picked it up earlier in my writing process. It could have saved me some time editing the mistakes away now.

Books Like This: The Writer's Lexicon; The Rural Setting Thesaurus; Description (Monica Wood); You Can Write a Novel

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