Holly Lisle: Mugging the Muse
Mugging the Muse combines discussion and advice about the writing life with exercises on the craft of writing and solid (recently updated) information on the business of writing in a changing industry. Lisle is a well-known fantasy writer who has shifted her fiction, backlist, and non-fiction to her self-publishing platform.
This book takes advantage of the electronic platform to include links to Lisle’s web site and to downloadable worksheets for the exercises in each section. I read Mugging the Muse on my Kindle, skipping over the exercises, but now I’m looking at it on my computer screen, courtesy of the Kindle app, where it will be very easy to keep a worksheet or note file open.
The first section of the book includes a collection of essays about the writing life, including “How to Tell Who Won’t Make It in Writing,” and a quiz that told me I’m doomed: You’ll probably make a great writer. You should think very carefully before getting married, having children, or buying a pet, however. Walking into your living room and discovering the dust-covered skeleton that was your cat — or your spouse — can be really bad for morale. The exercises in this section are introspective, designed to make you consider your goals, strengths, and weaknesses.
Section II covers craft topics in brief but useful sections on building characters, plotting, description, pacing, and maps for world building; this is where the downloadable worksheets come in. This is also a bit of a sales tool: Lisle has full books available on some of these topics, priced at $9.95. (Mugging the Muse and the short but useful Professional Plot Outline Mini-Course are currently priced at $.99, remarkable bargains.)
Section III, Writing and Selling, includes essays on theme, voice, collaborating and querying, among other topics, all solid (and interesting) advice. Section IV covers Frequently Asked Questions about self-publication, money, and the business of writing in general, and Section V throws in a few bonus essays.
Lisle offers online courses, lots of articles and POD versions of many of her books on her web site (http://hollylisle.com/). Mugging the Muse is a good place to start, both entertaining and highly informative, and a good addition to any craft library.
Kay Hudson plans to mug her muse just as soon as she locates the secretive creature. Meanwhile she blogs about reading, writing, and really bad traffic at kayhudson.com.