“Don’t expect any action items, but The Liar’s Bible will help you mature as a writer.”
I bought The Liar’s Bible without really knowing anything about it. I didn’t know anything about the author, his various pen names or his multiple bestselling series.
The Liar’s Bible by Lawrence Block is another of those books that fellow indie authors recommended to me, telling me that I simply had to read it but without really explaining why. It’s simply one of those books that are in the author-ether (and message boards) and so I bought it without even reading the book’s blurb.
So, to save you from a similar fate, I’ll tell you what I really should have known before cracking it open.
Lawrence Block is a highly successful writer, who has written in all kinds of interesting genres and, most importantly for us, for years he wrote a monthly column giving out writing advice in Writer’s Digest magazine.
At a glance…
This particular book – Lawrence has quite a few books on writing – is a collection of some of those previously published magazine articles. Forty articles, each around 1700 words in length.
Each article/chapter is written in the avuncular style of a seasoned author handing out advice over a friendly cup of coffee. So far, so easily digestible. The downside is that the articles themselves can feel a bit…dated. Which starts to make sense when you realise most were published in the 1980s.
This isn’t a problem in and of itself, but the publishing industry (like so many others) has undergone a sea change in recent years that can make stories and advice from 20-30 years ago seem almost quaint, if not completely alien.
The chapter on his experience with self-publishing, for example, is so different from my experience that he might as well be giving me his views on gardening, or interior decorating, for all the use it is. Sure, it’s interesting to hear about how he physically printed his books, but it’s not something that has any practical purpose to me in 2020.
Ultimately though, I do understand why this book is so popular. It’s a fascinating read, written in an engaging, jovial style. Block has decades of experience and he really is a fantastic writer. He knows what it’s like to run out of motivation and just not be able to write anymore, he knows what’s like to lose confidence or get bored of a manuscript. He’s been through it all and now he wants to tell you about it.
Nowadays, there seem to be far too many books on writing that can feel utterly useless. They read like page after page of filler, teasing the reader onwards and dragging out every point just to up the word count, or worse, the page count. The Liar’s Bible is definitely not that. Block has a lot to say, and he makes point after point. At least one point per chapter, so that’s a minimum of…forty points! Yet, now that I’ve finished the book, I couldn’t really tell you what I actually learned from it.
There’s no single ultimate message, no actionable takeaways. Really, how could there be from an anthology like this? But I feel like I’m a better writer for having read it.
Looking for some inspiration?!
The bookspry team wrote a book of writing prompts and it’s available now! Weird and wacky prompts to bust you out of that rut…or to distract you from your real work.
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