Home > guidebook, non-fiction > The Rewritten Word: How To Sculpt Literary Art No Matter The Genre: Aggie Villanueva

The Rewritten Word: How To Sculpt Literary Art No Matter The Genre: Aggie Villanueva

July 14, 2011

“This is really excellent advice and something many authors need. I know it will be extremely helpful not only to beginning writers but to experienced writers as well.” ~Lillie Ammann, Author and Editor at lillieammann.com

The only How-To-Write book that has nothing to do with writing. It’s all about rewriting.

Whittle away what buries the art of your words beneath pulp, no matter the topic, no matter the genre.

Aggie Villanueva is a bestselling novelist, author publicist, blogger and critically acclaimed photographic artist represented by galleries nationwide, including Xanadu Gallery in Scottsdale, AZ. For decades peers have described Aggie as a whirlwind that draws others into her vortex.

And no wonder. She was a published author at Thomas Nelson before she was 30, taught at nationwide writing conferences, and over the years worked on professional product launches with the likes of Denise Cassino, a foremost Joint Venture Specialist. Aggie founded Visual Arts Junction blog February 2009 and by the end of the year it was voted #5 at Predators & Editors in the category “Writers’ Resource, Information & News Source.” Under the Visual Arts Junction umbrella she also founded  VAJ Buzz Club –where members combine their individual marketing power, and Promotion á la Carte where authors purchase promotional services only as needed.

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The Rewritten Word is a small book with few pages; and those pages are printed in a large font, making this book a very short read. But sadly it’s not an absorbing read, nor is it an easy one.

Despite telling us that we must cut all extraneous discussion from our work, the author makes most of her own points several times; despite banging on about the importance of ensuring that our writing is crystal clear most of the writing in this book is verbose and confusing; and despite the author insisting at length that we mustn’t allow our writing to be boring… well. You get the picture.

The claim on the back cover copy that this is “the only How-To-Write book that has nothing to do with writing. It’s all about rewriting” sounds clever but it isn’t true: what about Browne and King’s wonderful Self-Editing for Fiction Writers, or Strunk and White’s useful but somewhat dictatorial The Elements of Style?

Ms Villanueva’s attempts to rewrite other people’s rambling paragraphs in a more clear and concise style resulted in text which was almost unintelligible; she provides a long quote from someone else’s website which takes up nearly five pages out of her book’s sixty pages (plus six lines in order to provide a web-link to the original blog—twice); but she provides no acknowledgement of the original author’s permission for her to do so, and I have to wonder if she even asked. I could go on but it feels a little like shooting fish in a barrel.

I read thirteen pages out of sixty, all the time wondering if Ms Villanueva would get to her point or write something sensible: I was disappointed. There are much better books to be had about writing and editing: for example, my friend Nicola Morgan’s fabulous Write To Be Published, which is better than this in all sorts of ways.

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  1. cat
    July 14, 2011 at 10:55 am

    Write To Be Published is excellent – and one of the things which makes it excellent is that fact that it comes laid out in bite size chunks of information. You do not have to plough through pages to get to the point – a problem with many books about “how to write”.

  2. Sally Zigmond
    July 14, 2011 at 11:12 am

    I fully agree with you about Browne and King’s Self-editing for Fiction Writers, Strunk & White and Nicola’s Write to be Published. All do what they say on the tin–with knobs on.

    The book under review does not tempt me. The messy, cluttered and almost unreadable cover hardly augurs well.

  3. July 14, 2011 at 7:54 pm

    The mixed metaphor of the first line of the blurb told me everything I needed to know. Whittle away the pulp? Who whittles pulp? I’m not going to trust the editing advice of someone who thinks that’s a good metaphor.

  4. July 14, 2011 at 8:47 pm

    In America, all you need is a strong opinion and the self-confidence to sell it. Actual knowledge and insight is optional.

  5. July 16, 2011 at 4:56 am

    Jim, I was a little offended by that comment, but sadly, you’re right in many respects. The opinion articles and the subsequent comments in our local paper read like an episode of Jerry Springer. However, Americans don’t have the corner market on strong opinions.

  6. July 16, 2011 at 6:21 pm

    Agreed…Americans aren’t the only blowhards. However, my issue with this book is with the author. Just because she’s a published author doesn’t make her an authority on editing. She simply lacks the platform to make herself credible.

  7. John King
    July 18, 2011 at 12:13 am

    There’s so much that’s wrong with Strunk and White.

  1. July 20, 2011 at 6:49 pm
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