Sunday, January 17, 2010

Book Review: Flogging the Quill

I discovered the Flogging the Quill website last April and have been a faithful follower and participant ever since. Where else can you get a professional critique of your first page by a real, live editor absolutely free?  What keeps me coming back is that the advice is not just free, but that it is good.

The one disadvantage to the FTQ website, however, is that submitting to a public "flogging" of our words is always difficult.  No matter how much we psyche ourselves up for criticism, it's tough.  As Seargant Major Harper said after being flogged in Sharpe's Enemy, "Jeez, it hurts like hell. I don't think I could have stood any more."

Now, you don't have to.

Ray Rhamey has taken all of the wisdom, humor and encouragement of his website and packed it into a highly readable workbook-style guide titled Flogging the Quill: Crafting a Novel that Sells. I am not a fan of most writing books because they all seem to say the same things: Show, don't tell. Create believable characters. Keep your plot moving.

Rhamey doesn't just tell you what to do, he *shows* you with concrete examples and a humorous touch. I learned more from this book than I have from all the other books on writing I've read so far combined. The bigger page size definitely helps with readability, as do the cartoons and illustrations sprinkled through the text. Every section ends with a practical exercise, and there are additional samples on which to practice your new-found revision skills at the back of the book.

To make it even more fantastic, Ray is giving a free critique of your first three pages, or a free half-hour phone call (one hour for groups) to discuss writing topics, with the purchase of each book. You can't beat that for an incentive.

This is truly the best fifteen bucks I've ever invested in my writing.  Go ahead and try this at home.

The opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own. I have not received any compensation from the author.


  1. I also bought a copy of Ray's "Flogging the Quill" book some time ago and it is my most used reference (by far) while I write. It's clear language and presentation, relevant topics, and remarkably useful examples will make you a better writer for having read it.

    Thanks for bringing attention to this book, Christine. I think it can be really helpful to writers of all levels of experience.

  2. I'm skeptical of "buy this and geth this for free" ads. I think of them like call in psychics - answer 30 questions and they'll tell you what could possible be in your future.

    But, if it worked for you Christine, congratulations. That's not a sarcastic remark either, I really hope you got what you paid for.

    I posted my query at Query Shark over three months ago and have heard nothing. But that's ok, because it tells me my query was so typical it wasn't even worth a response: which she say's would happen in her if/then scenarios.

    Thanks for the link though. You never know when it might come in handy.


  3. Donna,

    Ray and I have talked several times via email. He is a very nice guy and I'm sure he'll come through on the bonus offers.

    I haven't used my freebie yet because I want to do the phone call and I want to wait until I get further in my manuscript or am ready to query.

    He is basically giving of his time to help other writers, and to help promote his book, of course. He has a passion for helping new writers, which his website clearly demonstrates.


  4. I'll have to look into this. I heard about FTQ from you, I believe, and I've thought about sending in the first page of my WIP. I probably will after I re-write it; even the fifth draft version doesn't satisfy me!

    Ray sounds like a generous man and I'm glad his emails and book and website have helped you so much!

  5. I think Ray provides a great, free service for people who really want to hone their first 16 lines. He also provides paid-for editing services. If you are interested in an editor, you can a sense of his approach to editing by reading his critiques.

    I wasn't aware of the additional bonuses for buying his book--where did you find out about those Christine?

    On a related note, my first 16 lines is currently up for flogging (I used my middle name, David). Any comments are welcome!

  6. The information about the bonuses is at the end of the FTQ book, David. I didn't know until I bought it and read it all the way through.


I apologize for the word verification. I hate it, but the spammers made me do it.