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The International Writers Magazine: How to Write:

Wannabe a Writer? By Jane Wenham-Jones
Lisa Timmermann

Many how-to-books I have read have been disappointing, hardly teaching me anything new about the particular subject. Sure, when you read a lot of books about the same topic, some of the information and advice will keep repeating itself. But even though some of Jane Wenham-Jones’ advice is common knowledge, she does provide many new tips and tricks of the trade as well, most of which I instantly felt inspired to make use of myself.

What also makes this book stand out from the crowd is the author’s very original, light-hearted and self-ironic voice. Filled with humor and an unsparingly honest look on the business of writing, Wannabe a Writer? is entertaining as well as enlightening, and may well supply even the most depressed writer (or wannabe writer) with new hope and inspiration. Written in a straightforward and engaging style, it makes for a fast and fun read.

Apart from outlining different authors’ varied approaches to writing, Wannabe a Writer? is a very personal account of Wenham-Jones’ own experiences as a writer which may well be described as a memoir of writing. The author injects her book not only with honesty and humor, but also passion and enthusiasm, thus offering the wannabe writer the sympathy and understanding he/she lacks and needs, as well as boosting his/her confidence and motivation.

While it is a well-researched guide to writing, Wannabe a Writer? loses some of its authority in those sections in which the author admits that she herself has not tried a certain outlined strategy recommended to her by other successful writers. This, however, is only a minor criticism, as is the fact that her jokes about excessive alcohol consumption and hangovers – which will probably be understood only by someone who either lives or has spent some time in the UK – become slightly excessive as well.

All in all, this guide offers solutions to many common problems experienced by beginner writers, and will particularly be of interest – and help – to any struggling first-time novelist. I can only recommend this book.

© Lisa Timmermann July 2008

Lisa is studying for her MA in Creative Writng and writing a screenplay at the University of Portsmouth

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