Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Advice From a Dog

Peggy Archer
For Christmas one year I received a book from my husband called Snoopy's Guide to the Writing Life. Snoopy's Guide... is a wonderful tribute to Charles Schultz, author of the Peanuts cartoons, edited by his son, Monte Schulz, and Barnaby Conrad.
I have always loved the cartoons about Snoopy as a writer. Like us, he faces the challenges of writing a good story, revision, criticism, and advice. Snoopy listens to suggestions and gives them a try. He imitates the masters in his own way. And he never gives up.
I love Snoopy's rejection letters. They make you laugh because, for the most part, no one could top the letters that Snoopy gets from publishers. Like any dedicated writer, Snoopy believes in himself and keeps on going, in spite of rejection.
As a children's writer, I think I may relate a little more to Charlie Brown when Lucy challenges him and Linus to look at the cloud formations and use their imaginations to see beyond just clouds. Charlie Brown sees a ducky and a horsie. Linus sees a map of Honduras, a famous artist, and an apostle in the different clouds. When writing for children we should probably aim somewhere in between.
What I didn't expect to find in this book were the essays and advice from 32 best-selling authors. Some comments:
" matter what method you choose, start with something happening!"--Barnaby Conrad
"...characters are what a story is about--they drive the story; plot and theme come from character, not the other way around."--JF Freedman 
"A story's setting is what puts us there, gives us readers a sense of being in the situation with the characters."--John Leggett
"One of the most difficult decisions an unpublished writer makes is when to take advice and when to ignore all your well-meaning critics and do it your way."--Sue Grafton
Anyone who tells you how to write best-sellers is a sham and a liar. .... I write them with fear, excitement, discipline, and a lot of hard work."--Danielle Steel 
This is a great addition to my library, and a great book for writers of all genres and stages of their writing life. It will leave you smiling, nodding your head as you share the feelings that all writers feel, and gaining insight into the craft and business of writing.

SNOOPY'S GUIDE TO THE WRITING LIFE, edited by Barnaby Conrad and Monte Schulz, Writer's Digest Books 2002, ISBN: 1-58297-194-3.

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