Writing Books for Writers | The Deer on a Bicycle, by Patrick McManus

Writing books can often be dull, at least the ones that try to be too authoritative can be. So, I was pleased when I found that Patrick McManus’ Deer on a Bicycle doesn’t fit that mold.

McManus’ short stories are always a delightful treat full of sweet surprises. How yummy it is to find a writing book written by this master of country humor that not only incorporates a lot of his know-how, but also demonstrates it time after time through the pages of his short stories. I enjoy when any author breaks one of his stories down for me and tells me why he made the decisions he did, and McManus manages that task time after time throughout this book.

McManus’ book is set up so that there is a lot of discussion in the first half about the techniques of writing humorous fiction. It is in the latter half of the book that McManus demonstrates the application of these techniques. No one who has ever read a McManus story can forget the adventures of Rancid Crabtree, Retch and the other characters that live in McManus’s created world–at least I hope it is a created world. In this book McManus has collected a dozen of his favorite stories including the title story, and each story has its own commentary. This is an almost unprecedented opportunity to hear from a practicing professional the how and why of his story telling.

The Deer on a Bicycle is a fun book to read, and while McManus’ insights were not as earth shaking for me as a few of the writing books I’ve read, the book provided me almost as much entertainment as education. That is a claim that very few other writers have been able to make. McManus has stewed up something unique and I’d say if you don’t want to own it, you should at least read it. This is a book for beginning and middle writers, with middle writers who have already mastered the basics of storytelling perhaps getting more than the beginners. It is very easy to read and there are tips for everyone.

I’m rating this one as an intermediate book. Beginners will find something too, but not the basic nuts and bolts of how to begin. McManus assumes you can do that already.

Four stars overall.

Four stars for ease of reading.

Four stars for usefulness of information.

~ enjoy. H. Midiam

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