The No Rules Handbook for Writers by Lisa Goldman (2012)
The No Rules Handbook for Writers
by Lisa Goldman
Oberon Books, 2012
The writing process can be an overwhelming task. The aspiring author must decide what to write about, how his characters will act, where the events will occur, all the while following conventional wisdom that has been passed down through the ages. Lisa Goldman, however, challenges her readers to disregard that wisdom and create their own set of principles as they put pen to paper. Her book, The No Rules Handbook for Writers, examines forty platitudes, considering the value of each, and then turning them around and exposing positive aspects of ignoring them.
Goldman has been active in the UK playwriting world for some time, and much of this book is directed toward those that write for the stage. As with any good instructional book, writers of any stripe can glean some knowledge from Goldman’s experiences, and she does try to write in terms general enough to apply to the novelist or screenwriter as well.
The author attacks long-standing rules regarding voice, research, dialogue, and even the three-word law that everyone has been taught since their early days in elementary school—“Show don’t tell.” Goldman encourages her readers to step outside of their comfort zone, to avoid the burdens of too much research, and as a contrast to that golden writing rule, she says, “It’s the way you tell ‘em.”
Goldman’s approach is fresh and interesting, showing pros and cons, explaining the rationale behind following and breaking each. Writers who need a fresh approach and are willing to be challenged will find plenty of ideas to explore in The No Rules Handbook for Writers.