This book isn’t your typical ‘How to” guide. If you are seeking a book that will give you step by step instructions on how to write compelling stories or blockbuster scripts, then keep looking, this isn’t it!
This is a broad overview of writing and its many genres e.g. journalism, comedy, fiction etc told from the perspective of someone who has literally done it all. David Quantick is accomplished in a wide range of writing disciplines and has extensive experience in them all. I imagine this book as what Quantick would say to his own child if they came to him wanting to know how to become a writer. It is a sometimes cynical, often humorous and brutally honest look into the world of a writer with a few tips and tricks along the way.
The book itself is broken up into chapters that are dedicated to a particular writing genre and for the most part Quantick is providing the content. However there are a few areas where he doesn’t feel as confident in his expertise and instead has chosen to interview writers he deems worthy.
The interviews were actually my favourite chapters to read, even if they weren’t focused on an area specific to me. Quantick’s questions were always great at gaining the most valuable information and his way of transcribing interviews was far more entertaining then most of the magazine interviews I have read to date.
Quantick also uses the book to highlight some key issues and struggles faced by writers. In the chapter on Film writing he eloquently points out all the problems faced with British film-makers, the severe lack of funds and advertising making it almost impossible to produce a profitable film, therefore making it a sub-par industry when compared to the booming U.S film industry. It was really interesting to see these problems outlined so clearly, without apology.
I have read many books on writing over the past year and whist I will admit that I don’t necessarily feel more educated in the technique of telling stories, I do feel like I’ve gained ‘street smarts’. This book is more about ‘How to write everything for this industry’, it’s a guide on the different facets of being a writer depending on the type of writing you are doing.
The expectations and pay of a script writer by comparison to a poet or a stand up comedian are very different. As are their relationships with the team around them, in film the writer is often placed low on the pecking order, with the Director being top dog. However in sitcom writing (particularly in the US) the writers are the ones in charge. These are dynamics that are important to know if you are just starting out and maybe haven’t decided which direction you would like to go in.
However with all that being said, Quantick does offer the same advice as every other writing book out there….
“And there it is. My final piece of advice. Write!”