The Power to Write; a Writing Workshop in a Book. By Caroline Joy Adams. New York: Barnes & Noble, 2003. 180 pp.
More “inspirational” than “how-to,” The Power to Write seeks to do just that: empower the fledging writer. Getting started is hard, and that’s where Caroline Joy Adams assumes her reader to be…at the start of a writing career. To that end, she presents seven themes to help get the reader off the couch and to the keyboard.
Part 1 is dedicated to helping the writer create an ‘intriguing story’ and separates the book into chapters which she calls ‘keys.’ (Warning: this is a cute device. If you shy away from cute, beware). She opens with key one which encourages the reader to delve into their store of memories, experiences, and emotions. From this seemingly endless pool, the spark of story can emerge. Key two discusses the ‘powerful opening.’ Key three focuses on creating the most emotional experience possible for your future reader. Then key four has the new writer ask six important questions of what they’ve written thus far: what is the main conflict, who are your characters, when is your story set, where is it set, what events take place BEFORE your opening – but aren’t in the story, and why your story is worth telling. She goes into each of these questions in depth, and they are well worth paying attention to.
Part 2, devoted to helping ‘develop and refine your writing voice’ is comprised of three ‘keys.’ Key 5 helps you focus on adding sensual touches (sight, sound, taste, touch, scent) to your writing. Key 6 helps you look for your unique voice, and key 7 is designed to help you find the courage to share your work.
One part instructional, two parts inspirational, Caroline Joy Adams has created a nice recipe for a writing workshop. (Cute warning again: you may love her calligraphic inspirational quotes adorning each chapter. But then again, you may find them corny). All in all, this is a cozy little read. You can blitz through it fast, or take your time over a cup of coffee. My advice? Advanced writers take heed: this one isn’t for you. It’s for the beginning writer who needs a little help taking that first step over the threshold. If you’re just starting out, pick up a copy…and DO the exercises at the end of each chapter.