The Author’s Checklist: An Agent’s Guide to Developing and Editing Your Manuscript
By Elizabeth K. Kracht
Published by New World Library
Available: February 2020
Amazon Link: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1608686620/
Over the years, I have picked up several books here and there meant to guide writers in perfecting their craft and/or getting published. When I came upon this title on NetGalley, I realized just how much time had passed since I’d read The Elements of Style (by William Strunk Jr.) , so it seemed I was overdue for a new lesson.
The Author’s Checklist is organized almost in a random way, it seems. The “chapters” are specific topics, such as “Plot” or “Audience,” which works well enough; however, there is no path, at least nothing that struck me as obvious. It would seem better to have outlined these chapters in a more guided way, leading a writer from beginning (outlining, ideas) to end (sending out queries and how to find an agent/publisher). But, to be fair, the subtitle here is An Agent’s Guide to Developing and Editing Your Manuscript, not An Agent’s Guide to Writing Your Book and Getting It Signed. With that mind, the chapters do cover a variety of helpful topics, making tried and true points worth bearing in mind. For example, Kracht makes reminders (in multiple ways) to look for balance, whether it be in how often to use flashbacks, dream sequences, or even grammatical marks (including my favorite, the em dash).
There’s a long list of sections to explore here, but the issue really comes in the actual exploration. I’d say the majority of the topics tackled here are only lightly touched, often without example. Many of these chapters are only a page long, which leaves a lot to be desired. Throughout reading The Author’s Checklist, I felt a little cheated that examples weren’t being readily provided along the way. It seemed to me that this book would have been made invaluable had it backed itself up throughout, rather than just in a couple spots. It became a bit frustrating, to be honest.
Complaints aside, this guide still offers a lot of good points (however brief). In fact, I am using several chapters from it in editing some new manuscripts at this time, so doesn’t that mark it as a success? There’s help to be found here.
Highlights: Covers many topics that will be useful in developing your manuscript
Shadows: For a guide that says “show, don’t tell” more than once, it does more telling than showing (i.e. it lacks examples)
For fans of : How-To guides, writing nonfiction and/or fiction
Takeaway: The Author’s Guide comes in a little underweight – leaving things to be desired along the way – but also breaches a variety of helpful topics for writers to keep in mind in developing their latest work.
Would I read this author again? Yes
Review by Aiden Merchant
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