Book Review: The Art of War for Writers by James Scott Bell

Writing is war. You start out ready to battle the pages but then end up defeated when it comes up blank. A book I’ve always enjoyed is The Art of War for Writers written by James Scott Bell. Bell has written several other books on fiction writing and I find his approach easy to understand. This small, yet handy book covers many subjects in the writing process.

            There are several topics in the book from establishing a quota, character development, dialogue, point of view, finding an agent and making goals. It’s divided into three parts the first is called Reconnaissance which involves the mental part of writing, this is my favorite section. Writing is a very mental process and sometimes can leave you feeling drained. There are times I feel my work is going nowhere but after reading the section Know the Difference Between a Hero and a Fool, I feel better. It’s a reminder I’d rather write the best possible story rather than rush into publication with something that isn’t my best work.

The second section is Tactics; this touches base on the craft of writing. My favorite parts in the section are Bell’s tips on how important dialogue is and sometimes just writing dialogue will create a scene for you. It’s a great way to get words on paper.

The final section is Strategy that discusses goals, finding an agent and writing a proposal. It gives tips on what not to do when dealing with agents and how to interact at writing conferences.

            This book would be a great addition or as a gift to a fellow writer. I always refer to it again for inspiration and get something from it each time. It’s a fun read because each section is short, just a few sections a day gets me in the zone before I dig into writing.

            Has anyone else read any good books on writing? I’d love to hear any recommendations because I’m always looking for a new one to check out.



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