Verdict: A fascinating look into the mind of a highly successful author looking back on his work, WRITE! offers valuable lessons on approaching storytelling that will benefit creative writers of all stripes.
Gerald DiPego guides aspiring writers through a handful of his novels and screenplays to share the lessons he has learned in more than four decades as an author in WRITE!.
Focusing mainly on three of his novels (Keeper of the City, Cheevy, and With a Vengeance,) DiPego walks his readers step-by-step through the process of developing stories–from the initial spark of inspiration to the story’s resolution–offering insights into the decisions he made while writing each tale. Alongside lengthy excepts from his books that help to illustrate his thought process, DiPego also offers myriad tips, suggestions, and writing exercises to help writers generate ideas and hone their craft.
But WRITE! is only a writing-advice book in part. In some ways, it actually feels more like a memoir—one of a man who loves the written word and wants to inspire others to care about it just as deeply. The result is a book that is not just a useful primer on developing and refining stories—it is also a highly entertaining read. DiPego’s conversational writing style conveys encouragement, empathy, and the occasional stern warning about lazy writing, like this tongue-in-cheek suggestion: “If you find yourself writing a character as a one-dimensional device—oh, he’s the mean manipulator, oh, she’s the sexy, knowing temptress…Stop and hit your head on the desk, not too hard, just enough to shake off all the flat characters that are always hanging around and saying, ‘Hey, use me, I’m easy, everybody knows what I stand for. I save you time.’”
WRITE! is also well-organized, making it easy for readers to return to sections that will help with the writing struggles they face from day to day. However, someone looking for hard-and-fast rules on writing well may be somewhat disappointed. DiPego acknowledges this possibility, noting that there are few (if any) firm rules when it comes to writing fiction, and he instead offers a look behind the scenes of his own creative process. So while it would be impossible to boil DiPego’s advice down to a set of terse, bullet-pointed rules, WRITE! has a lot to offer writers who are still learning how to think about the various steps of the story-creation process.
A fascinating look into the mind of a highly successful author looking back on his work, WRITE! offers valuable lessons on approaching storytelling that will benefit creative writers of all stripes.