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Anatomy of Prose Book Review

The Anatomy of Prose: 12 Steps to Sensational Sentences by Sacha Black is the best writing craft book I have ever read. (Currently on my second read through with highlighters and a pen.)

Once upon a time, I started to seriously try my hand at writing. My sentences were all of mostly the same structure. "I walked there. I opened the door. I stepped into the building," kind of thing. My locations were mostly blank whitespace. I knew the world but not the textures, smells or sounds filling the rooms of my world. Enter Sacha Black.

I read the flap and was hard pressed to believe one book could deliver on all the promises. "A step-by-step guide to creating descriptions that sing. The key to crafting character emotions that will hook the reader. How to harness all five senses to make your stories come alive, deepening your readers experience. Tips and tricks for balancing details at the sentence level. Methods for strengthening each sentence through strategic word choice, rhythm and flow. Dozens of literary devises, and how to utilize them to give your prose power. Tactics for differentiating characters in dialogue as well as making it punchy and unforgettable. A comprehensive prose-specific self-editing check list. How to embody your character's personality at the sentence level. The most common pitfalls and mistakes to avoid." It did.

This book leveled up my writing on the prose level in every way possible. From the chapter level to paragraph, sentence, individual words and even strong letter sounds, this book goes from wide to microscopic detail.

The writing with the five senses was the chapter that intrigued me the most to pick up this book. I saw an interview with Sacha Black where she did a free presentation on the senses and I was sold. Linked here:

Because of this craft book I have started a "style bible" where I write down what I learn from craft books as well as favorite lines from books to analyze and incorporate that structure/ word choice/ visuals/ metaphors into my own writing.

I have evolved multiple levels at once. I could look back on the story I had written just before reading this tome and cringe at how much improving it need. And better yet, I could see how to do the improving.

"I walked there. I opened the door. I stepped into the building," was transformed. "Dust billowed in clouds around my wore sneakers as I made my way to school. Lost in thought, I realized I was already there when a crack of lighting broke the sky. The larger than life door to the prison-like building loomed, shadowing my slight figure. It groaned with the crushed dreams of thousands of children as I pushed it open. I took a deep breath before taking the fatal step across the threshold, never to return."


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