Book Review: The Writer's Portable Mentor by Priscilla Long

The Writer’s Portable Mentor by Priscilla Long is a treasure trove of information and inspiration for all writers, at whatever stage they may be at in their writing lives. Priscilla Long focuses on six areas she feels are important in every writer’s development. They are: basic productivity, language work, training in observation, grasping and employing story structures, developing sentencing skills and the regular practice of completing works and publishing them.

In the first section Long states: “Writing every day is the key to becoming a writer.” I completely agree. She then provides plenty of ideas on how to incorporate writing in your already busy life. In the exercise, “Hands On: Jump Starting an Essay or Story” she teaches how to generate a first draft in just sixty minutes. This exercise alone is worth the price of the book, in my opinion. She also has a brilliant chapter on training ourselves to observe.

The middle chapters of the book are taken up by a fascinating and useful look at structure. Long points out highly productive writers often share two habits: they write a set number of words a day and they write into a structure. In this section four different types of structure are discussed: theme structure, collage structure, two-or three-strand (braid) structure and dramatic story structure. Wonderful examples of each are given.

After learning how to put words on the page and how to structure them, Long gets down to the nitty-gritty. Topics such as sentence structure, paragraph structure and punctuation are examined next. Part Five concludes with a wonderful chapter on revision and Long’s own take on “Work vs. Talent.”

The final section of the book deals with publication. Why else are you doing all this hard work, right? For writers already accustomed to sending out their work much of this can be safely skimmed, but writers just beginning to submit their stories will be grateful for Long’s clear instructions. Everyone, though, can benefit from the chapter on productivity. And Long’s method of organizing her own writing has improved and revolutionized my own. The final chapter is on success and reminds every writer of why they are writing.

The Writer’s Portable Mentor is exactly what it claims to be: a mentor. It has earned a place on my bookshelf alongside the few, precious books I reach for again and again. The Writer’s Portable Mentor is in turns educational, inspiring, encouraging and entertaining. Priscilla Long has generously shared all that she has learned in her years as a writer and writing teacher. I think every writer should own a copy of this book.

Be sure to stop by tomorrow for my interview with Priscilla!

To learn more about Priscilla Long visit:
“The Writer’s Portable Mentor” is published by Wallingford Press.


cynthia hartwig said...

Priscilla Long's book is something every writer should have. I use it daily for writing exercises, ways to improve my skill-set. No writer should be without this invaluable resource. Thanks for reviewing.

firstlinefiction said...

I agree! Thanks Cynthia.

~ Lori