Review: Storytelling for Pantsers (by Annalisa Parent)
‘How to write and revise your novel without an outline’
What a wonderfully novel book on writing, and on how unique we all are. It is somewhat goofy, offbeat and fun, yet the message is clear, and very insightful and useful.
I love the way the author structures her ‘takeaways’, (like others do tweetables), in a fresh, unusual way. You’ll see when you read it, they are spread throughout the book, like finding sweets along the way, to reward you for reading.
Instead of bullet points, summaries, and long-winded explanations, she manages to surprise with her wit, conversational style of writing, and giving her “remember this” type messages. She uses apt, piquant analogies from everyday life, which you will have no problem identifying with, and remembering.
I also enjoyed her clever use of metaphors and imagery, they contribute in a large way towards the usefulness of the training and advice.
It is funny and cool. She resonates with me totally, not taking it all so very seriously and pedantically. She manages to take the heavy burdens, which so often besets writers (like self-doubt, that inner critic, fear of failing, comparisons on how we stack up to others, not enough time, money worries) and make their solutions imminently relatable and memorable.
At each stage she gives examples, (as well as delightful wordplay) which make the information easy to comprehend and accessible. She writes as if she is speaking to you, as if you were sitting comfortably, having coffee (or wine) and a good conversation.
The emphasis on mastering your mindset, confidence and being yourself, unapologetically and with total acceptance, are particularly valuable lessons in this book. And, she says, to pantser, or not to pantser, is hardwired into you. You’ll do well to accept it and go with the flow. (smile)
With her qualifications, she could easily have written a tome of scholarly note, yet she chose this easy style, which is a great, effortless read.
This book is written for all ages, the language and parallels are applicable and understandable to everyone. This book shows how to move beyond your fears, how to address your perceived failings and when to do what. And how.
She has an engaging way of gifting you lots of valuable, helpful bonuses. As you read, these are revealed, sprinkled and spiced throughout. How great to be able to smile and grin while learning? This happens only if you have a great teacher. And Annalisa Parent is just such a one.
She breaks up the text with contrasts, similes and stories wrapped in different packaging, yet sticking to the main theme. Clever, that. And very successful.
She succeeds wonderfully in revealing solutions by quoting from various books in which examples can be found to highlight the topics. Here she reveals her trustworthiness, her knowledge and expertise about her craft. She has put in the work, done the time, and is definitively worth listening to. All throughout reading, you clearly feel that she is there with you, knows your struggles, and gives comfort while giving advice or training.
I particularly liked her excerpt of Skin Horse (Williams). How true.
This book is not only relevant to fiction writers, but I feel it is beneficial to non-fiction writers as well (if you want to sell more books, that is). It is as important to both genres to know who you are writing for, avoiding wordiness and how to get out of your own way. Non-fiction can be dry as dust. Borrowing from fiction structure, plots, arcs, stakes, climaxes, resolutions and pacing, will help you find ways with which to make your desert-dry facts into at least some resemblance of lush-green-fountain-I-would-love-to-read-this type of book.
She showcases a new way of writing in the way she structured and wrote this book. Times have surely changed, and readers want more instant. She highlights the importance of communicating right at the beginning that it will be a fast-paced read, with no long and involved text, dense and heavy. You will not find it daunting, and therefore more inclined to read it.
She keeps it relevant, entertaining and humorous. So, you find yourself turning the pages without noticing, encouraged because you find it effortless, not the usual time-consuming wading to finally get to the good stuff. It happens from the get-go. Modern readers, in the age of now-now-now, want it fast-clipped and simple.
You will want to read this, all of it. If you suffer from idea swamp, this is for you. Being a writer is about writing. This book will help you. There are thousands of books about writing out there. Having read this one, and having found it immensely helpful to me, I can sincerely recommend it to you.
You will learn, inter alia, about balance and economy, how character and incident interrelate, the difference between stakes and urgency, and the three things you need to balance correctly. You will get to know the critical missing element in most writing classes or training, how you need a program and how that differs from a course or having a book on writing, what systems and integration are, and what the true cost versus value is.
And oh dear, she addresses the adverb, drat! Don’t we all just love it to bits? Sigh. What can you do? It must be the most unwanted of all writing ‘tools’. Poor little darlings.
At first glance at the table of contents, I was a bit lost, but as I got started, it soon became clear what it all meant. Know that it is worth it.
A caveat: My Kindle might be the cause, but I found the scanned inserts or visuals slightly blurred, but could still read them fine. And I didn’t get the true meaning behind ‘Molassesn’t-on-the-Chair Swamp…’ probably because I’m not American? and please forgive the passive voice used herein. You can see why I needed her training (grin).
(Storytelling for Pantsers), author (Annalisa Parent), Publisher (Laurel Elite Books) ISBN Number (1947482017) and a link to order StorytellingForPantsers)