Mr. Peck is a funny and witty writer who presents the standard writing information in a new and unusual way. Reading all these DIY books about writing, I find they fall into helpful but predictable topics: how to build a world, which POV to use, how to develop a character, and etc., etc., etc. All very helpful but a little repetitive.
Mr. Peck asserts that a writer should start with the character and not worry about the ensuing plot. It will take care of itself. Almost immediately, however, he says an author needs an issue to begin. He uses abortion as an example. Then, a pregnant teenager character as the one who has to overcome the issue. After that has been established, he relies on a series of clever devices to expand on the character theme such as adding to the cast of characters, creating balanced characters (each with good and bad traits), ditching the character’s worthless background, and doing the unexpected.
You can see how he’s redressed the old topics such as unnecessary exposition and redefined them from the character’s viewpoint. So, he deals with the usual topics, but he presents them in witty—and sometimes silly—ways. As an added bonus, he also likes to use his own books as examples. He says a writer who doesn’t promote his own works isn’t a writer.
I particularly liked his chapter on using zingy words in place of expected ones. I’m not sure I could do that, but it is an interesting suggestion. He also advocates using animals to plump up the character and putting dirt in unexpected places. And he does it all with a wit and humor, never straying too far from the focus on character.
As this was written in 1983, I found some of the references lost on me and some words inappropriate, and his tongue in cheekiness can take some getting used to, but I will try to use some zingier words from now on.
Thanks, Mr. Newton, for putting a new spin on things and passing on your wisdom in a very colorful way.