There are so few books that specialize in writing science fiction & fantasy that I try to read the few that exist. I admire OSC’s storytelling even if I disagree with his politics, so I tried to set aside his homophobia as I read this. The book was published in 1990, which means much of the submissions and business information is outdated — the book especially dates itself by giving postal addresses rather than URLs for every resource listed. Afterwards, I did a quick check on which publications were still in operation, and found that most of them had folded.
However, the craft information, while leaning a bit heavily on the sci-fi side, is still helpful. I especially liked the section where OSC talks about different narrative structures, depending on the type of story you are trying to write — a character story, a “milieu” story, an “idea” story, etc. I was surprised to realize that my 2014 NaNoWriMo effort is a “milieu” story — a structure that I had never found all that interesting in the abstract sense. The examination on how to choose your viewpoint character was valuable, too. And I was strangely delighted by the “non-writing” advice in the last couple pages, reminding writers to get enough sleep, get physical exercise, and not to neglect their families. All important advice, especially since there’s a tendency, after reading a writing advice book, to think you must devote EVERY spare moment to your craft if you ever hope to succeed.
It was a worthwhile read, although short, and would have been even shorter had I skipped the chapters that were no longer relevant. Will probably jot down my favorite pieces of advice and pass this on to another writer.