Adair Lara’s “Naked, Drunk, and Writing” has become my go-to guide for the technical matters of writing. It has nothing to do with being naked or drunk, that’s just a title to get your attention. I do a lot of writing coaching and editing, and whenever I do, I find myself referring to this book because Lara explains what works and doesn’t work so well. Her writing is precise, insightful, and readable. I want all my students and clients to read it.
I’ve read a lot of books on writing. There are a number that are more inspirational than this one. But none that give you more practical, useful advice. It is not at all designed to make you feel like the only thing stopping you from writing the Great American Novel is you taking the time to write it. Not at all. She focuses on what makes good writing good and bad writing bad. She also gets into a little bit of the psychology of why we feel compelled to write in a way that readers won’t necessarily connect to. She uses her own mistakes as examples, and also uses her own students’ successes. She shows what she’s talking about instead of telling you what it is, which, of course, a primary rule of good writing.
Most of the examples she gives center around personal essays. But even if that isn’t what you write, the ‘rules’ she gives are universal. Dialogue is dialogue, whether it is fact or fiction. Conflict is conflict. Subtext is subtext. Stories have arcs, whether they are 800 words or 80,000 words.
Bottom line is this: if you fancy yourself a writer of narrative, whether it be memoir or fiction or essays of any kind, you need this book. If you are a discriminating reader, you might also find this book useful – I like knowing why a piece of good writing is good, and if I don’t like it why I probably don’t.
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Lori B. Duff is an award-winning author who practices law on the side. Her latest book, “If You Did What I Asked in the First Place” was awarded the Gold Medal for humor in the Foreword INDIES awards in 2019. You can follow her on Twitter at @LoriBDuff and on Facebook. For more blogs written by Lori, click here. For more information about Lori in general, click here. If you want Lori to do your writing for you, click here. If you want Lori to help you market your book, click here.