Paul Darcy Bowles’ “StoryCrafting”

Paul Darcy Bowles’ “StoryCrafting” offers a good toolbox for writers at any point in their career

StoryCrafting is (so far) one of the best all-around books I’ve read on the art of writing. For one thing, Bowles spends a great deal of the book on revision/revising and gets into specifics; things to look for, things to be aware of, what not to do, what to definitely do, … Lots of books talk about revision/revising while not offering much about the mechanics of doing so (my opinion). Bowles also provides ample insight on subjects like POV, Character, Plot, Scene, … It’s truly an good toolbox for anyone learning their craft.

The best part of this is that Bowles demonstrates his process while honoring yours. He makes suggestions for your process and in the end, if something’s working for you and you know it’s working for you, don’t change it. Figure out why/how it’s working and make it better.

Sage words, that.

The book also has open exercises, meaning you do the exercise and here are the guidelines by which to judge how well you did. There’s no correct or incorrect way to do something – Bowles repeatedly emphasizes this – there’s only the way that works for you. To that point, the book is written by a mentor, not a teacher per se, Bowles works hard to make sure he (and you) are not stuffing you in a box of preconceived concepts on “how to do it”. StoryCrafting is a book by a guide, someone who’s traveled the land of Authorship many times before. He’ll take you to the dangerous places if you really want to go there and only if that’s what you need to do. Similarly, he encourages you to explore so you can learn on your own.

It’s also important that Bowles shows you his process and admits that, despite his success, he’s still working at it. That was glorious to learn.

On a side note; Bowles passed long ago but not so long ago that I was his student for a week. I signed up for the Writers’ Digest School writing course (done via mail, not email, it was that long ago) and Bowles was assigned as my teacher. I received a welcome letter from him that in a few short paragraphs shared his joy of writing, of teaching writing, and promised wonders if I’d do the work.

A week later I received a letter from Writers Digest that Bowles was no longer available and I’d be getting another teacher.

His book’s been on my shelf waiting all these years for me to enjoy.

Don’t wait as long as I did. If you’re a writer, read it now and learn.