About Writing by Gareth L. Powell: Practical and Unique

I read Gareth L. Powell’s About Writing: A Field Guide for Aspiring Authors. Twice. The second time, I took notes. Maybe you should, too.

front cover of About Writing, A Field Guide for Aspiring Authors
A quick read with so much wisdom in it …

Powell is a bestselling speculative fiction author from the UK. He has twice won the BSFA Award for Best Novel, and has been a finalist for both the Locus Awards in the US and the Seiun Awards in Japan. I’ve read several of his fiction books and highly recommend the Embers of War series.

I found About Writing practical. First of all, the book is short, but packed full of writing wisdom. Powell shares both his victories and hard lessons he’s obtain in his writing career. He narrows his audience to the aspiring author who may not know where to start to get published. He has several assignments for the reader to do after finishing the book–exercises he has found helpful in his own writing practice.

Sure Powell covers topics found in most books on writing –where to get ideas, motivation, and so on–but he presents them from his unique experience. However, I found several topics I’ve read little about from the perspective of an aspiring author. Powell uses Twitter to keep in touch with his fanbase, and , in his book, brings several tips on using social media. He also gives a step-by-step guide to obtaining an agent–a mysterious process to most new writers. Powell, however, breaks it down realistically and gives the writer searching for an agent some hope.

About Writing comes across as informal and unstructured–there isn’t even a table of contents. But that’s okay. For the short amount of time it take to read and the huge amount of wisdom Powell offers, About Writing: A Field Guide for the Aspiring Author is worth it.

Photo by Isares Thiankul from Pexels

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