I love reading writers’ methods, their habits and their pathways to publication. I believe in them, but I also believe that a writer can learn a limited amount from other writers. Ultimately, a writer must write and write.
So it is with some caution that I approach such books as this, a collection of essays by successful writers on how to craft short stories. However, for the most part, this anthology is incredibly useful. Its pages are filled with insight, inspiration and unfussy advice. Its contributors strike straight to the point and rarely resort to patronising or obvious guidance. I found particular resonance in Graham Mort’s notion that the text of a good short story is activated by the reader and Vanessa Gebbie’s recollection that a Bridport Prize judge told her that he is looking for a story that makes him forget he is reading a story.
In addition to these specific points, the essays are filled with useful, often original, viewpoints on every technical and emotional aspect of a short story: from setting to theme to form and, of course, power and impact. Highly recommended. Well done, Salt!