Book Review: The Linchpin Writer
Reviewed by Jaylynn Korrell
A valuable guide to crafting a novel worth reading
Writing is a constant learning process. Every book you read will help you hone and understand your craft, whether it be from the success or utter failure of the work you’re reading, or if it’s a book about writing. John Matthew Fox give us some excellent tips that both experienced and brand new writers can learn from in The Linchpin Writer.
In writing, the “linchpin moments” are the pivotal places that will either make or break your work. When done correctly, these moments hold your book together and make sure your readers are always engaged.
With specific examples from some of the greatest novels ever written (both classic and contemporary), his own personal experience, and lessons from writing professionals, Fox guides readers to better writing in regards to killing characters, ending chapters, creating gripping first dialogue, describing characters, evoking wonder, and so much more.
Fox ends each of his chapters with activities for writers to do to apply the lessons he just discussed. They demand you to actually put pen to paper—the hardest part of writing for some—but they also confirm what he’s said to be true.
By working through writing activities—like writing down every description you can possibly think of for your character and then throwing the whole thing away—writers can better understand their characters AND recognize that writing time shouldn’t always result in words on your novel’s page.
There are no hard and fast rules in The Linchpin Writer, though there are many suggestions that I think will be beneficial. Fox never lets readers forget that their creativity is the star of the show and that these guidelines are here to help improve their writing—not take away from its uniqueness.
Numerous times he gives examples of people’s writing that do the exact opposite of what he’s suggesting, but the example shows clearly that the reason why it works is because of how well it’s done. Readers will appreciate his openness as well as his devotion to using well-researched examples to back up his points.
“For every rule, there are a thousand ways to break that rule. And it’s important, I think, for writers to see the full range of possibilities.”
Fox brings a personal touch to The Linchpin Writer. He shines in his storytelling of the moments that made him into the writer he is today. By tying in memorable points in his own writing life, you’ll get a sense of his experience as well as his true passion on the subject.
One of my favorite pieces of advice? Insert yourself in the direct path of the writing life. Writing conferences, writing classes, buying too many books, attending bookclubs, and talking to writers about writing. In addition to some really spot-on writing advice, Fox provides personal experience and inspiration to make this book something that writers can’t afford to miss.
Genre: Nonfiction / Writing & Publishing
Print Length: 190 pages
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