2 December 2016

DISCOVERING The DIAMOND by Helen Hollick with Jo Field


Amazon Universal Link £1.99 / £7.99

Non-fiction / writing tips

This little volume doesn't cost much and won't take long to read (I finished it on a long car journey) but that small investment is very worth while. It should be compulsory reading for every aspiring writer. Like the diamond in its title, it's compact but valuable, drawing on many years' first-hand experience before the empty page. Although Helen Hollick is now a successful and popular novelist, she's not too proud to share mistakes that she's made in the past and generously allows us to learn from them - and from her triumphs too.
Although primarily aimed at novelists, this book contains many pointers relevant to non-fiction writers. All the advice is imparted in a friendly, supportive manner that make it very easy to access and absorb. Even the most defensive authors who bridle at the thought of anyone editing their work will be gently persuaded to hone their work until it shines.
I love the title and its implication that underneath your rough rock of a book there is a diamond lurking, if only you are prepared to spend long enough polishing it. Discovering the Diamond will soon become dog-eared on many an apprentice writer's shelf through constant reference. It is in itself a gem, and a polished one at that.
Debbie Young

`Discovering the Diamond' is an excellent, easy to read, well-structured guide, which allows for the novice writer to hone the base material of their manuscript into a polished gem which will knock the publishers' eyes out (hopefully).
In this short book, multi-published author, Helen Hollick pulls no punches in stating that becoming a published author, either at the hands of a reputable publishing house, or through assisted publication outlets, or by pure self-publishing, is not an easy task. Even the perfect manuscript is not guaranteed a place on the bookshelf.
What this informative guide does is to lay down the ground rules which, if followed, will place the novice writers' work in a competitive place, towards the head of the queue for assessment.
One must remember that literary agents and publishing house editors are human beings, and the amount of time they can allocate to each manuscript submission is limited. Unlike the budding author (and published authors too), they cannot dwell for hours over a couple of pages, tweaking a word or phrase here or there, trying to polish the work to perfection. If you are lucky, they will read the first paragraph or perhaps a page of a submission, before either accepting it for further reading, casting it to the slush pile, or most likely, dropping it into the reject basket.
`Discovering the Diamond' lifts the lid on the transgressions of all authors - both published and novice. For example, too much tedium will bore a reader to death, and obvious errors in spelling, tense and syntax, along with obvious anachronisms, provide an instant no-go.
Hollick strongly advises writers to treat their work to the services of a professional editor and not to rely on a family member who will say he/she loves it despite all its errors.
Hollick also advises honesty in the way new writers look at both their own and other people's work. And to illustrate each new section, she provides examples using scenes from her own books. My only comment here is that I found some of the passages a little over-long, and would have preferred more succinct examples.
Then there is discussion on layout and cover design, the use of contractions, and more, plus a timely warning about the pitfalls confronting new writers including those companies who bubble with enthusiasm to publish your first book - at a cost!
Personally, as a published author both in mainstream and self-published outlets, I could relate to all that is contained in `Discovering the Diamond'. And though the information was not new to me, reading it was a timely reminder of the grammatical traps I can, and have fallen into, through complacency, when writing my novels.
I would recommend `Discovering the Diamond' to any budding author seeking publication. Some real gems of writing wisdom are contained within its pages.
Margaret Muir

... Next Review: will be posted 1st January 2017 >


4 comments:

  1. Wow! Didn't realise (until I visited) there's a new book too! Fabulous idea, and I love a diamond or 3 ~ Fabulous Graphics AvalonGraphics - Cathy Helms... such a hidden Gem!
    Visited today by @CazsBooks
    Caz

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    1. aren't Cathy's designs fantastic! Thanks for dropping by Caz

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  2. I thoroughly recommend this book. I bought it a few years ago and learned so much from it. It is a diamond in itself, and I always suggest it to every would-be author who asks me for advice. It's a great place to start learning about so many aspects of writing, from the difference between 'show' and 'tell' to the correct way to format your book. Helen really cares about indie authors, and it shows.

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    1. Thank you Loretta, its proved helpful to several authors now, Jo and I get a lot of pleasure knowing we're helping a few new or novice authors along.

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Helen