Monthly Online eZine  
News And Views For Working Writers

 INside Scoop
 IN Her Own Write
 Pen IN Hand
 Write On!
 Screen & Stage
 Top 10 Resources
 Book Reviews
 Items Of INterest
 Global Offerings
 INside Services
 Bill The Bard
 The Writer At Work
 Games & Puzzles
 Classic eTexts
 Free Software
 IN Banners
 Who's IN
 What's IN
 Editorial Calendar
 Join IN's Team
 Contacting IN

IN Front Cover


Learn To Be A Better Journalist

Buy Classic Literature Collections

Acclaimed Screenplay Writing Software

Books On How To Write Fiction

Become A Well Paid Travel Writer

Vote daily and raise our ranking!

Book Reviews
January, 2008

IN Advertising

Book Reviews - May
Narrow the field and choose the right books
By  Anthony Ackerley and J.R. Kambak

Tune into IN reviews for the best of books about writing – all genres – from high adventure to haiku, from fact to fiction, cookbooks to commentary, and much, much more. Always check IN to see what's in. We only publish the best and our rating scale below is based upon the values of the three Es: Easy To Read, Educational, and Entertaining. If you have a how-to-write book that you would like us to read and possibly write a review about (we only publish reviews of books that we deem are best of the best) please send it to us. Our snail mail address can be found at Contacting IN.

Title: Plot
Author: Ansen Dibell
Publisher: Writer’s Digest Books
ISBN 10: 0898793033
Reviewer: Anthony Ackerley
IN Rating:

Review: Plot is the engine that keeps any novel or short story moving. Structure, characterization, or any other writing element, will make no difference without plot. Ansen Dibell provides a mechanic's guide to plot to ensure your engine runs smoothly and consistently for as long as you need it to.

From the first chapter – What Is Plot? – Dibell's focus remains clear: to give readers a crystal clear view on the massive entity that is plot, be it in short stories, or in novels. Dibell speaks to beginning and experienced writers on equal terms, recognizing that weak or struggling plot is a problem that plagues all writers. One of the strongest aspects of this book is how the chapters are divided. Each one has a clear heading, identifying the type of information one can expect within. Each chapter is then broken down into smaller sections with sub-headings, presenting the information in small, easily digestible bites, rather than serving up the entire feast all at once. The potential to overwhelm a reader with too much information is great with subject matter such as this, but Dibell overcomes that challenge very nicely.

Dibell teaches readers to distinguish between plot and a scene. Plot is sustained cause and effect throughout a story, a scene is a tool used to carry the plot along. Many writers have the problem of coming up with an idea, believing it to be plot, and then having their story tail off after the first major incident, without understanding why. “Plot is the things characters do, feel, think, or say, that make a difference to what comes afterward.” If you, as a writer, have not thought about what comes after ward, your plot is reduced to a mere scene, and will not make for a very compelling read. This book will help you discover which ideas lend themselves to a story the best and help you analyze quickly and carefully any future problems that may arise.

One of the most useful chapters in this book deals with the use of Melodrama. Melodrama conjures specific images in the minds of those who hear the term used, and more often than not, these images are accompanied by negative connotations: cliché, over-the-top situations that have been done and done again, and no longer possess the effect they once had. Used properly as a plot device however, melodrama is a powerful tool that can enhance a work rather than detract from it. Dibell helps you identify those powers, as well as the possible pitfalls, and adds much support on how to harness this technique.

It has been quite some time since I have read a book that I would consider a page-turner that wasn't fiction. This book should be placed in that category. I recommend reading with a highlighter in hand – there are vital tips and advice contained on every page. It's straightforward enough to serve as a primer for the beginning writer, yet candid and informative enough to benefit the long-time professional. Keep it on the shelf in your writer's garage.

Buy this book from Amazon!

If you like this review, take a look at Our Members Library Of Recommended Reading for books that have made a significant difference in our members' writing careers.

Title: The Art Of Fiction
Author: Ayn Rand
Publisher: The Penguin Group
ISBN 10: 0452281547
Reviewer: Anthony Ackerley
IN Rating:

Review: The Art Of Fiction is in essence a transcript of an informal course on fiction given by Ayn Rand to friends and associates in 1958. Ayn Rand is an intelligent, artistic, and talented author. And she knows it. Though, occasionally, I think readers of this book would be better served if she didn't.

Rand takes a traditional, intellectual approach to writing, dismissing immediately any writer who says, “For those who understand, no explanation is necessary; for those who don't, none is possible.” She contends that to be a writer, one must be aware of where their inspiration “. . . comes from, why it happens, and how to make it happen to you.” She stresses the concretes of writing, not the abstracts. In doing so, she takes her position against many well known abstract writers, like Gertrude Stein and James Joyce. She uses these authors as examples on how not to write, which, to me, is not entirely accurate.

Rand's tone engenders a feeling that you must write like her otherwise you are incorrect. However, I can freely admit that there are far worse things in the world than writing like Ayn Rand.

Looking past her personal opinions on writers and other works of literature, as well as her ego – “In regards to precision of language, I think I myself am the best writer today” – and focusing on her advice, this book can be a valuable read. And many times even when I didn't agree with her, I found myself grudgingly conceding to the points she makes. This book is part instruction on writing and part introduction to Rand's philosophy. If you’re not prepared for it, it can be a bit off-putting.

One of the most useful bits of information in this book is Rand's distinction between plot and plot-theme. Being able to distinguish the differences is important to any writer. And this is the central concern of the book: building a plot that will allow your story to work properly and be as strong as it can be. Rand does talk about other elements of writing, such as different issues of style (metaphors, slang, etc) and specific forms of literature (humor, fantasy, etc), though each topic only gets a page or two of discussion. In a book that deals with fiction as an overall topic, this is understandable, but I would have liked to see some expansion in each area. Still, the information given should be quite useful to any writer.

There is no bit of information contained in these pages that makes me say it is a must-read book. However, if you are familiar with and enjoy Rand's work, or are looking to approach writing from a different perspective, then I can highly recommend this book. Otherwise, I would steer clear and look elsewhere for your information

Buy this book from Amazon!

If you like this review, take a look at Our Members Library Of Recommended Reading for books that have made a significant difference in our members' writing careers.

Title: Screenwriting For Teens: The 100 Principles Of Screenwriting Every Budding Writer Must Know
Author: Christina Hamlett
Publisher: Micheal Wiese Productions
ISBN 10: 1932907181
Reviewer: J.R. Kambak
IN Rating:

Review: We’re all allured by movie magic and the dream of writing a megabucks screenplay that will dazzle all of Hollywood. But as veteran screenplay writer, John Collee states in this book’s foreword: “In a way, lessons in how to do anything well are lessons in living.” His caveat scripter of do’s and don’ts sets the tone for author Christina Hamlett’s rudimentary instructional processes in screenplay writing that are lucidly set forth in a triad format of Concept, Look and Learn, and Brainstormers.

I don’t know if Ms. Hamlett was being cheeky about the title – most of us have never matured past our late adolescence, still clinging to our armed-to-the-teeth excuses in denial of our own writing flaws – but she clearly addresses the conceptual elements of script structure in a learning approach of systematic appraisal. This teaching style accompanied by tactics that can burst even the most seasoned writer’s jaded perceptions of screenplay structure make this book a gem.

Presented in a simplistic but sophisticated voice, Ms. Hamlett presents each concept with precision, coupled with a Look and Learn resource guide to Internet links of film-related resources. She follows this up getting down to the brass tacks with a trio of Brainstormers exercises to burn the concept into your brain.

Ms. Hamlett has inserted the exercises for each principle concept that must be done to complete the book’s overall purpose of teaching you screenplay writing as if you were taking a workshop. Her approach is so well structured that you’ll be able to make a glass of water talk if you do everything she suggests.

Avoid the hard knocks. Read this book and do the exercises, thoroughly. Then, write a screenplay for a short film, before knocking off your first full-feature script. You’ll be a better person for it and Hollywood will put your scripts at the top of their stack, because, as Ms Hamlett concludes, “it’s a matter of knowing what you don’t know and endeavoring to master it so your skill level will improve.”

If you cave in, write her an essay entitled, Ten Reasons I Really Hate Writing And Would Never Want To Do It For A Living, which she’ll accept via email. And one more thing, this book is equally accessible for those just curious about the screenplay medium and resources.

Buy this book from Amazon!

If you like this review, take a look at Our Members Library Of Recommended Reading for books that have made a significant difference in our members' writing careers.

IN Icon

Anthony Ackerley is a professional writer who lives in south west Ohio. He has worked writing for a newspaper, been published in an online children's magazine, and currently has an adult romantica novel out. He enjoys sports, cooking, and playing games. See his novel at


J.R. Kambak is a regular IN contributor and award-nominated screen-playwright, award-winning videographer, and former corporate communications/media relations executive. Contact J.R. Kambak for more information and resources:

Sign Up and Use Our New Forums! Voice Your Opinion! Discuss Our Content! Ask for Writing Assistance. Post Your Successes, Queries or Information Requests. Collaborate with Other Writers.

© Freelance Writing Organization - International 1999-2049

Book Reviews
IN This Issue
Book Reviews - December
Book Reviews - November
Book Reviews - October
Book Reviews - September
Book Reviews - August
Book Reviews - July
Book Reviews - June
Book Reviews - May
Book Reviews - March
Book Reviews – February

Support IN
Receive Free Gifts
$20.00 Voluntary Contribution
$35.00 Voluntary Contribution
$50.00 Voluntary Contribution

New Novelist Software

Effectively Manage Your List

Writers Digest 101 Site Award

Your Ad Here

Traffic Swarm For Writers

Hottest Books This Month!

Whose Books Are Turning Into Movies?
Bald Ego
Mouse Over To Pause

Writer’s Block
The path to inspiration starts
Upon the trails we’ve known;
Each writer’s block is not a rock,
But just a stepping stone.

Poetry Is Not
Penned to the page
Waiting for us to admire.
It is only a lonely thought
Caught by tears on fire.

Silent Echoes
A quiet rhyme upon a page
Is what a poet gives;
Some gentle words whispered in trust
To see if memory lives.

Bard From Deadlines
What makes a poem finally work
Is not the time it takes;
It’s how the poet used the muse
To prophet from mistakes.

Be Mused
The art and craft of poetry
Are not so far apart;
The craft comes from the cunning,
The rest comes from the heart.

Fine Vintage
Don’t plant your poem on the page
As though you’re hanging drapes;
It’s shape and flow should come and grow
Like wild summer grapes.

Getting It Write
Writers write what they know best,
Their passions, fears, and dreams;
Writers rarely write about
What other call their “themes.”

Double Vision
A writer’s life is paradox,
It’s more than what it seems;
We write of our reality,
The one inside our dreams.

The echo of a promise,
The thunder of a sigh,
The music of a memory,
A child asking why.

Letter Perfect
Twenty six symbols arranged on a page
Can send a soul to heaven or torment it with rage,
Can free a fragile world or hold it in its net--
The power and the magic of the mighty alphabet.

The Write of Passage
The jump from writing just for fun
To getting paid for it
Begins when you first realize
You know you’ll never quit.

It is not the magic of his wings
That sets us free from our bond.
It is the muse within ourselves
That lets our words lift us beyond.

Photo Poet
Consider your mind the darkroom,
Consider your life the lens,
Consider your eye the camera
On whose focus the poem depends.

Rising Moon
A poem is a rising moon
Shining on the sea,
An afterglow of all we know,
Of all we hope to be.

Star Light
Writing a poem,
Reaching a star,
In making good art
We find who we are.

Spider Web
A poem is a spider web
Spun with words of wonder,
Woven lace held in place
By whispers made of thunder.

The final draft upon the screen,
At last my poem’s through;
A verse of only four short lines--
I rewrote twenty-two!

Read All Of Charles Ghigna's Poetry at

Our Own Banner Rotator System
Any banner seen below is either our own or one of our members.
Support the cause - click a banner.

Want Your 468x60 Banner Above? It's FREE For Newly Published Books

© Freelance Writing Organization - International 1999-2049
All Rights Reserved. Copying in any way strictly forbidden.
Our Disclaimer Is Based Upon McIntyre's First Law: "Under the right circumstances, anything I tell you may be wrong."