The Anatomy of Prose – Review

One of Cupán Fae’s coping mechanisms for the pandemic was to run a book club. We focus on craft books for writing, rather than fiction, because our tastes vary once you step outside of Fantasy. I’ve previously discussed Save the Cat! Writes a Novel in my newsletter. Last night, we finished discussing The Anatomy of Prose by Sacha Black.

The big thing to note is that this is a bad book to read as a book club that meets weekly to discuss parts of a book along the way. The material is inconsistently meaty.

That said, I do think writers can get something out of it, and it’s worth writing groups discussing it and reading it. Some parts of it are more useful for writers who are only really starting out, but even our group found some useful notes throughout. Last night’s discussion covered chapters 8 through 12, so we ended up looking at the senses, philosophy, character codes, self-editing and a set of literary devices.

Along with the chapter on the subject, I think her self-editing checklist is the most valuable part of the book for a writer who’s been at it for a while. We tend to hate editing our work, so having some tools and tricks to make it more systematic and less about killing our darlings certainly helps.

I was also delighted to see that Black covered creating fear in her Senses chapter. Craft book writers who attempt to write about fear or horror without knowing anything about the genre tend to fall flat, and their inexperience shows. Black navigated creating fear in prose deftly, without having to address horror tropes and tricks, since fear prevails throughout every genre of story.

My little horror heart sang.

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