How to Write Like Tolstoy

How to Write Like Tolstoy

A Journey Into the Minds of Our Greatest Writers

Book - 2016
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Cohen has researched the published works and private utterances of our greatest authors to discover the elements that made their prose memorable. Evoking the marvelous, the famous, and the irreverent, he reveals the challenges that even the greatest writers faced--and how they surmounted them.
Publisher: New York : Random House, [2016]
Edition: First edition
Copyright Date: ©2016
ISBN: 9780812998306
0812998308
Branch Call Number: 808.3 C6607H 2016
Characteristics: xx, 323 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm

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danulb
Dec 29, 2017

I had a similar reaction to another reviewer: He covers the usual bases, but doesn't do much to elaborate much on anything. Yet the author doesn't do more with most of than present examples -- pro and con -- with very brief discussions. There's no "operational" advice -- stuff the aspiring writer can put into practice. Or I missed it if there were.

And, overall, I think at this stage anyone who's read a few books on the craft knows to read the masters and also read a lot -- both in one's specialty (if one has one) and out of it. I felt he should've done more to say how a writer might spot and work on the various areas -- rather than piling on examples and anecdotes. (The examples were good and the anecdotes were fun, but I wanted more.)

By the way, I liked that he brought up rhythm, irony, and sex scenes -- else this would be just another Writing 101 book -- or maybe writing 201. I believe it's good to get beyond the same old laundry list -- character, plot, setting, point-of-view -- that literally hundreds of other writing books cover. (Granted, I've only read a few, but I've skimmed enough to see it's hard to come up with much fresh to say about plot or point-of-view.)

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1aa
May 10, 2017

Relatively brief, but very fluidly written chapters, though with a lot of gossipy bits and bragging that were more annoying as the book progressed. All of the main elements are covered: point of view, plot, characters, and most importantly, rewriting, which is given two chapters. The worst chapter is on style and rhythm because it doesn't do much to explain it and develop it, but it gives a great footnote to Lucas' "Style" which is available on archive dot org.

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