Review: How I Write, by Janet Evanovich
If you love Evanovich, you will love this book. She is generous with her process and uses lots of examples from own work, so it is certainly a glimpse into the writing life of this author. As a writing how-to, however, despite its blurb stating that it is "the perfect guide for anyone looking to strengthen their writing" (which suggests at least intermediate advice,) it is introductory at most, and that is the reason for my 2 stars.
The book is structured as a Q & A, the Q's coming from her website, and they are very basic questions - almost a nightmare collection of newbie questions (yes, even 'how do you come up with ideas?') - which Evanovich answers kindly, and briefly. The book is, too infrequently, interspersed with solid theory from editor Ina Yalof but there is nothing that will be new to anyone who has devoted any time to studying the craft of story. I hope that Ina's small summaries, as well as some of the references at the back, will hint to readers that there is more to the writing than just the questions asked in this book and that it can be learned, even if their favourite authors aren't very good at explaining what they know, themselves.
Lead by the web questions as it is, the book is a kind of overview for the "I really want to write but..." crowd, and if it gives them the courage to actually start writing, then that's great. I hope, however, for the sake of slushpile readers everywhere that when those first drafts are done, those writers don't turn straight to the 42 pages on 'Getting Published" and completely skip the 9 pages on "Editing and Revision."