Kelly’s Picks: Chapter After Chapter

Kelly’s thoughts on Chapter After Chapter by Heather Sellers

Though I acquired and edited this book many years ago, it still remains one of my favorites. And, since it is one of the books I most frequently recommend to other writers, it seems fitting to recommendation it here.

The truly wonderful thing about this book is that it not only provides you with fabulous writing instruction and inspiration (each chapter is an insightful, layered essay with original exercises to get you writing), it also provides you with a writing-life philosophy (and even a bit of a life philosophy if you read it closely enough!).

Author Heather Sellers has such a diverse writing background: She’s a professor, a novelist, a children’s book writer, an essayist, a memoirist. And it’s her rich experience and passion that make Chapter After Chapter so relatable and meaningful to so many different types of writers. (She’s also the author of the equally wonderful Page After Page.)

Chapter One: Rose to Ash, which you can read online, is one of my favorite chapters in the book. It touches on something so many writers seem to struggle with—the desire to preserve that perfect idea by choosing not to write it, saving it for a later date that might never come. Squandering it. You know these writers. They’re part of the “I had an idea for a book once” crowd. The non-writing writer crowd.

Other great chapters include Chapter 4: The Book 100, which encourages you read 100 books like the one you want to write in order to better familiarize yourself with your genre and competing titles. (I’m in the process of doing this now, and it’s a fun and creatively inspiring exercise!) Other gems include Chapter 16: Wise Guides, about the importance of creating a good support system as you work on your own book, and Chapter 23: Naked, about the revelatory nature of writing and the bravery it takes to put your ideas out there for the world to see.

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