I’ve spent most of a lifetime learning how to write. My bookcases are ready to buckle under the load of textbooks about the craft. But it occurred to me a few years ago that not a single one of them approached the topic with humor. Every last one of those books, even those by amazingly talented writers, had all the appeal of week-old toast. Like virtually all the textbooks I’ve ever had to use, they’re dull. And boring. Every. Last. One.
When I started teaching, I realized I needed a good textbook, but one that was interesting enough to keep my students engaged. Humor seemed like the obvious answer, and since I didn’t already own a title that would work, I visited a couple bookstores to find something else. There were plenty of books on writing available. And they appeared to come in all shapes, sizes, and varieties, save one: they all lacked humor, even those claiming to teach someone how to write humor! A funny book designed to teach writing just didn’t exist.
Had I stumbled upon a potential niche? Me?
As they say in North Dakota, “You betcha!”
I was already producing humorous material about the craft, so I decided to try my hand at writing a textbook using the same approach. Naturally, I incorporated a great deal of my blog material in it. That first effort resulted in Write Naked! (Secrets of Dynamic Prose Laid Bare!)
This giggle-worthy collection of tips, techniques, and advice has garnered some wonderful reviews. Readers, and writers, are not only learning from it, they’re having a good time in the process. (I’m pleased to announce this book is now available in ebook format.)
But not all of my students were engaged in writing fiction, and that was the primary drift of that first textbook. I had almost an equal number of folks looking to me for advice on writing memoirs and family histories.
That quite naturally became the focus of my second textbook: The Naked Truth! (Telling Your Story Without Showing Your A**!)
When I told my students the book was coming out, and that it featured a middle-aged flasher in a trenchcoat on the cover, I thought several of them might faint dead away. Fortunately, they didn’t.
Not only that, but they went out and bought the book. It seems quite a few also read it, took the advice to heart, and have produced some quality material. For me, their success has been one of the great joys in my life. And for each of their achievements, I feel like I’ve racked up a merit badge of some kind. I never want that feeling to end.
With that in mind, I embarked on my third textbook, this one aimed squarely at novel writers. It’s called The Naked Novelist! (Take It Off and Write It Down!)
This is the latest in the series and has only been on the market a short while. But, if the tradition holds, students of the craft will get the same level of laughter and enlightenment as offered in its predecessors. That was, and remains, my goal.