by Lawrence Block
CreateSpace, December 2015, $16.99

This is an expanded and updated edition of the author’s 1978 manual Writing the Novel from Plot to Print, an excellent work about the writing life that is covered in the first edition of What About Murder? (Scarecrow, 1981). Noting the advice and encouragement he offers aspiring writers, I also found it “such an entertaining piece of writing, it could be enjoyed by fans of Block’s other books even if writing a novel were the farthest thing from their minds.” Lawrence Block has kept the original text of the earlier edition—he continues to use his then-current novel The Burglar Who Liked to Quote Kipling as a case study—but he has added considerable new material on changes in the writing and publishing world, bringing the total wordage from 66,000 to 93,000. Self-publication, easier and less expensive than ever in the ebook and print-on-demand era, gets three new chapters. Block presents the new material with the same mix of clear thinking and irrepressible humor found in the original book. In his introduction, he admits he may have grown more garrulous with age, but Block is the kind of writer who can be as garrulous as he chooses without losing the reader.

He’s also enough of a grammatical purist to risk political incorrectness and reject a sentence like “Everyone has a right to their own opinion.” Some will celebrate this.

Reviewed from the ebook edition.

Jon L. Breen
Teri Duerr
December 2015