The Little Red Writing Book

Published : Sunday, October 28, 2007 | Label: Books  

UNSW Press, 2006

“Reading The Little Red Writing Book is the next best thing to participating in a workshop taught by one of the wisest, most gifted and ingenious writing teachers you could hope to find—precisely what Mark Tredinnick is.” (Michael Pollan, In Defense of Food)

Part meditation on the writing craft, part writing primer, part cry for grace, part manifesto, The Little Red Writing Book is a manual for everyone who wants to write, or has to write, and wants to do it better. It’s a book about how to make beautiful sense on paper—a lively and readable guide to lively and readable writing, creative and functional.

It tells, as I say in the acknowledgments, “Everything I haven’t forgotten of what’s come to me from a life lived in sentences—most of them other people’s.” It describes, in other words, the techniques (of phrase, sentence, and paragraph-making; of planning and plotting and finishing), the practices (of listening, of persevering, of thinking, of deepening), the ideas (writing is vernacular and semantic music; write to say something beyond what you say), and the wisdom (write to please yourself, but make yourself hard to please) I have learned in my years as an editor, publisher, essayist, poet and writing teacher.

“This is a book for every writer’s backpack,” Nicholas Jose says on the back.

“Mark Tredinick’s book is great on sentences, paragraphs, and practice,” says Anna Funder, “but its brilliance lies in its ability to inspire, and its exhortation to be brave.”

Patrice Newell, launching the book, described it as “the writer’s Joy of Sex.” One critic wrote that, in one of its guises, as a book of writing etiquette, mine belongs to “the James Bond school… elegant and enviably cool.”

“At once a practical guide to writing better and a deeply personal exploration of the writer’s craft,” wrote James Bradley, “[The Little Red Writing Book] is that rarest of things: a writing manual that actually works.”

imageIn 2008, the book, under another name, comes out in the US and UK, where its publisher, Cambridge University Press, hopes it finds its place, among other things, as a competitor to The Oxford Essential Guide to Writing, and other such guidebooks for college writing students. In Australia, the book has already found its way into that market; it is also recommended widely by professional and business associations; but it is most heartening to find that it is read and enjoyed mostly by the people for whom it was mostly meant: aspiring and practising creative writers and ordinary citizens eager to write with more grace and ease and punch.

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