Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Book Review: Starve Better by Nick Mamatas

I like reading about writing more than I like writing, which is a major reason why I am not published. I read a book every few months that is full of plans on how to write and keep focused so that one day I will have a novel. This book was more entertaining but not full of any of that faux encouragement that inspires me for a few hours and leaves me staring at a blank screen.

Nick Mamatas was the editor of Clarkesworld magazine, which I recently started to read and enjoy a lot. He also has published plenty of short stories, novels, nonfiction pieces. He has plenty of experience to fall back on and the anecdotes that fill this book are both hilarious and informative. I've read a few of his stories and found them really good, the short fiction piece in the book is worth the price. The voice of his narrators and the one he uses here are very similar, and I found it very amusing. 

Mamatas goes through the usual parts of a writing advice book, but I found his insights unique. He has great takes on dialogue, starting a story, and where to put the page breaks. He demonstrates these with examples that clearly explain how to utilize them, and made me laugh. 

The book also focused on the career of actually being a writer, the tough parts and the profitable parts. Mamatas makes it clear that there are opportunities out there and even though this book is a few years old, many of these chances still exist. I think his experience pays off here the most and his stories get even funnier with the hint of desperation yet craftiness that came from his past exploits. Some of this advice won't work for writers without a lot of confidence in their ability. I found myself discouraged at times but I appreciate that after getting inspiring emails that eventually ask me for cash.

This book is a collection of blog posts so there are some repetitive paragraphs but those stories sink in all the more. Writing a book for writers can not be easy because there are plenty of writers out there who believe they know everything about writing but without any proof that they actually do. Mamatas breaks it down in an enjoyable way and has some great ideas too. This book should be essential reading for that undergraduate deliberating whether to be an English major or young blogger who thinks they can make it in this tough business!

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