Chuck Wendig’s The Kick-Ass Writer: 1001 Ways to Write Great Fiction, Get Published, & Earn Your Audience won’t change your writing life. But there are some useful tips inside, and at some point, he’ll make you laugh out loud.
As the subtitle suggests, The Kick-Ass Writer proceeds in list format: each chapter (originally a blog post) contains 25 rapid-fire pieces of advice about a given topic. This approach results in some repetition, and prevents Wendig from doing deep dives or providing detailed examples; I would have preferred a more focused edition—maybe “101 Ways to Write Great Fiction.”
But because Wendig isn’t beholden to any single model of writing, he happily pulls from multiple theories while hammering home the point that there’s no one right way. “These are not regulations,” he says in the introduction. The Kick-Ass Writer is just a “bucket of ideas that serve as tools. And not every tool is meant for every job. And not every craftsman finds the value in every tool.” It’s a refreshing perspective; too many books about writing come off as narrow-minded.
Wendig is also a pretty funny dude. Sometimes it feels like he’s trying too hard—I’m not sure I needed a joke in every paragraph—but at his best, he reminds me of a novel-writing version of The Oatmeal. If you’re up for an irreverent take on the craft and business of writing, you could certainly do worse.