When a book on writing features the name of writing coach, editor, and publisher Len Goss, along with the name of pastor, author, and writing conference instructor Don Aycock, you can bet it will be worth reading. Certainly The Little Handbook to Perfecting the Art of Christian Writing is a gem. What makes this book especially distinctive is the fact that it is blatant about being a handbook for writers who are writing from a Christian worldview. To that end, it not only covers grammar, syntax, punctuation, format, style, and spelling, it also focuses on ethics, credibility, and commitment.
I have known Len and Don for the past two decades. I've had the privilege of working with both men at writers' conferences all across the country. Len is marvelous at working one-on-one with writers. As an editor with Broadman Holman for many years, he has developed a knack for showing students how to enhance their manuscripts through careful copyediting, improved story structure, and increased narrative drive. Those qualities of teaching come through in this book in chapter two, "Writing: The Truth and Nothing But the Truth," and chapter nine, "The Relationship Between Writers and Editors." Don, on the other hand, has always been more of a classroom lecturer or congregational preacher, offering lots of valuable information in a compact presentation. His gifts are obvious in this book in chapter one, "What You Ought to Know about Christian Writing and Publishing," and chapter ten, "Trends in Christian Publishing."
What is nice about a book co-written by a book publisher and a successful author is that you get both sides of the table in every discussion. Chapter seven focuses on negotiating book contracts, and it's obvious that the needs of the publishing house are balanced by the rights of the author. Even in chapter five, which talks about how editors view writing projects, the authors bring in the opinions and viewpoints of editors at a variety of different publishing companies, so the perspective is honest, even if a bit blunt at times.
Admittedly, not all of this book is original material. More than sixty pages are reprinted from an earlier book by Len Goss called The Little Style Guide, but those sixty pages contain answers to several punctuation problems faced by developing writers, such as when to use the colon and the semi-colon correctly.
Because Len and Don have heard the questions of writers for so many years, they have included responses to the most common questions, ranging from which writers' conference to attend to how to get a literary agent. Their answers are pragmatic, encouraging, realistic, and functional. This book is small enough to fit inside a lady's purse or to throw into a briefcase to keep handy for random reading or instant help with a writing problem. If you are now writing, or hope to one day take a stab at it, this book would be a great reference tool. Dr. Dennis E. Hensley, Christian Book Previews.com