By far the most helpful writing book I ve read.I loved this book Cheryl Klein is one of the editors at Arthur A Levine books famous for taking on Harry Potter when nobody wanted it I ve read my share of books on writing and editing and this one struck a chord with me Don t know if it is because of the plain, easy to understand language, the great examples of working and polishing a first draft to a final one, or the amount of knowledge this lady has For example, the issue of Voice Most agents editors describe it as something they are looking for, can t tell you exactly what makes a voice stand out, but they ll know it when they see it Ms Klein has five FIVE areas that she has compiled that describe exactly what voice is and how to find your own Must read for anybody who wants to write for children young adults. Whether You Dream Of Writing A Book For Children Or Young Adults, Or You Want To Take A Finished Manuscript To The Next Level, It Always Helps To Get A Fresh Point Of View Try A Little Second Sight In This Collection Of Talks, A Professional Editor Offers Insights From The Other Side Of The Publishing Desk On A Wide Range Of Writerly Topics Terrific First Lines And How They Got That Way What Makes A Strong Picture Book Manuscript Why The Harry Potter Series Was Such A Tremendous Success Finding The Emotional Heart Of Your Story Worksheets And Checklists For Building Characters And Bolstering Plot The Annotated Query Letter From Hell And An Annotated Query Letter That Does It Right With Its Wit, Intelligence, And Practical Tools For Analyzing And Revising Your Work, Second Sight Will Be A First Resource For Writers Of Children S And Young Adult Fiction This Book Has Not Been Endorsed Or Approved By J K Rowling Or Any Of Her Publishers Or Representatives, And All Thoughts Expressed Here On All Matters, Including The Harry Potter Series, Are Solely Cheryl B Klein S Own, And Should Not Be Taken As The Official Opinions, Intentions, Or Interpretations Of Any Of The Writers Or Publishers Mentioned Sometimes it seems like I ve read the entire internet on my quest for knowledge about writing I should have just read Cheryl Klein s book Second Sight tells you all the things all of them This book is a must have for any writer who is working on their craft, and there are three distinct reasons why Please note, I m making a list here because compulsive organizing is something Ms Klein and I have in common 1 Concrete examples from real life Too often, I read articles or even full length texts which offer excellent, logical reasoning behind strategies for writing, but with too few examples That is not the case with Second Sight Ms Klein provides examples from books she edited, in real life, with real results Not just oddly generated fictional examples that do a learning writer little good, but raw, honest glimpses into the writing process for several of her authors This information is PRICELESS.2 Careful layering of information When you re writing, it s so very easy to get lost in the woods How do you isolate plot from character from theme from sentence structure and keep it all straight Second Sight leads you down through the layers in a series of easy to consume lectures and articles by Ms Klein over the years It is like having a guide take you through the forest First, she shows you the forest on the map, and then you drive there, and then you walk the main trail, and then you learn about the side trails, and finally you examine individual trees down to their bark and roots Yes, there are THAT MANY layers to writing That s why it s so freaking confusing at times Second Sight will give you a sense of structure in the mess, and help you pull it into better order at each layer, producing something far better than you have before.3 Ms Klein is brilliant I say that not to be obsequious, but because it is a fact Her intelligence springs from the pages, and the orderly way that she leads your poor brain to an insight about the craft of writing is always well planned, meticulous, and unparalleled in execution I m a great reader My husband rolls his eyes at how quickly I read, and endures hours upon hours of my theorizing about books, but it was not until I read Second Sight that I had the WORDS to talk about what interested me Ms Klein breaks down every facet of writing She relentlessly categorizes, analyzes and details every aspect of books and writing, until there is honestly no reason NOT to improve your craft, because it is all prepared and broken down in front of you like a delicious buffet of words ready for consumption.Thank you, Ms Klein, for being wordy and nerdy and unabashedly intelligent It s my dream to work with an editor as talented as you. For writers who really want to understand how stories work and how they can make theirs better, this book is an essential resource It s a deeply intellectual analysis of many key aspects of fiction, and it s also a practical guide, offering tools such as checklists and spreadsheets you can use to structure your revision approach.I m planning to use it in a class I am teaching at the University of Washington this spring and am confident my students will benefit enormously. UPDATE I have it now, I love it, it is what I said it would be, and you should get it right now There I admit that I have not yet read this book IN AND OF ITSELF But Cheryl is one of my best friends, and I have been reading her writing for years, and have been party to the very wonderfully painstaking work she put into the production of this book It only takes knowing Cheryl to know that this is something that does exactly what it claims to do, that it has true value, that it is worth your time and money, and that she wouldn t have it any other way.So there Get it Get it now. SECOND SIGHT is a must read for all writers I highly recommend this book I ve already found Cheryl s tips and insight a huge help in my current round of revisions Just be sure to have a highlighter ready You ll want to make notes on every page NOTE This review was originally posted at The King of Elfland s 2nd Cousin on March 8th, 2011 If you enjoy it, check out my other reviews there Several years ago, The Professor my fianc e introduced me to children s book editor Cheryl B Klein s blog, where I discovered several years worth of thoughtful, analytical, and insightful talks she has given on the craft of writing and its intersection with the craft of editing Having found her thoughts interesting, I was excited to learn that Klein is now releasing a self published, crowd funded via Kickstarter book on writing entitled Second Sight An Editor s Talks on Writing, Revising, and Publishing Books for Children and Young Adults I was lucky enough to get my hands on a review copy not too long ago, and found it be challenging, insightful, and professional in all the right ways This is a book for people seriously interested in writing as both a craft and a career people looking for touchy feely encouragement or platitudes on the writing life need not apply.From my perspective, this is high praise What I look for in books on writing is a serious discussion of the techniques used to construct effective, powerful, and publishable fiction Whenever I read a new book on writing, I am always comparing it to the books on my Writing on Writing Shelf, which is primarily stocked with classics like E.M Forster s Aspects of the Novel, John Gardner s The Art of Fiction Notes on Craft for Young Writers, Ayn Rand s very different The Art of Fiction A Guide for Writers and Readers, or Ursula K Le Guin s The Language of the Night Klein s Second Sight An Editor s Talks on Writing, Revising, and Publishing Books for Children and Young Adults is like these excellent books in many ways.Second Sight An Editor s Talks on Writing, Revising, and Publishing Books for Children and Young Adults demands a modicum of pre existing knowledge Someone still struggling to grasp the basics of writing figuring out what a plot is, understanding the difference between point of view and voice, etc will likely find this book intimidating An intermediate writer as I like to consider myself who has been working at the craft for several years, who has a finished though not yet published novel or two under their belt, and who is looking for helpful ways to think about technique will derive a lot of value from this book.Like Forster, Gardner, and Rand, Klein flits effortlessly between the high concept philosophy of writing the nature of fiction, the nature of art and the gritty reality of constructing a working novel building point, character, plot, and voice It is clear in reading this book that Klein has thought long and hard about what constitutes good writing, and what criteria to apply when judging the written word However, unlike E.M Forster, or John Gardner, and certainly unlike Ayn Rand Second Sight An Editor s Talks on Writing, Revising, and Publishing Books for Children and Young Adults is far less didactic.Reading Le Guin s, Forster s, or Gardner s works on writing, I am often reminded of looking at a skyscraper In Forster s Aspects of the Novel, he takes 192 pages to walk us through the six pillars on which all novels rest Each chapter builds on those that precede it to concisely outline the author s vision of The Novel, like one floor resting atop another This kind of writing on writing provides immense value, but it is by its very nature broad it speaks in generalities from a hundred stories above the ground, glossing over many challenging aspects of writing But if reading Forster is like looking at a finished skyscraper, reading Klein is like looking over an architect s shoulder.When I finish classic books on writing, I am often left with a feeling of Whoa, as my perception of The Novel has changed Reading Klein cover to cover doesn t produce that response Instead, each chapter of Klein s book leaves me with a smaller sense of Neat that shifts my thinking on a particular facet of the craft I wouldn t be able to swallow a book like this in one or two sittings In the two or three months that I ve had my review copy, I ve found that I would read a chapter or two, put it aside, and then return to it repeatedly when running into tough spots in my own writing And that is its primary value as a helpful tool for the dedicated writer struggling with the minutia of craft.The primary meat of this book is framed by practicalities It opens with a series of brief philosophical musings on the nature of good writing, and then dives right into the process of finding a publisher That fact alone should tell you that this isn t a book for someone who has never written anything However, those early chapters are beautiful for their simple, straightforward discussion of the publishing process The annotated query letters one from hell and one which gets it right are excellent, providing real world lessons that can be applied by anyone intending to pitch editors or agents.The middle of the book consists of independent chapters on various aspects of writing The subjects range from a working definition of young adult literature, to techniques for constructing picture books, to the relationship between plot and emotion There are commonalities across all of these sections, but they are not structured and should not be read as laying out a dialectical argument Instead, they are insightful musings on varied aspects of writing, which may be relevant to some readers some of the time but not to everyone, and not always.It is only as she approaches the end of the meaty section that Klein veers into a Forster esque mode of outlining a theory of the novel Captured in a sixty four page quartet of chapters with their own introduction , Klein discusses what she considers the pillars on which a novel rests point, character, plot, and voice While these chapters are insightful and valuable, they represent the book s one structural weakness up to this point, the chapters all provided valuable insight without relying on the other chapters Diving into the quartet on page 186, with its concomitant shift in structure and tone, struck me as inconsistent with the rest of the book s structure Without a doubt, the quartet deserves a place in this book, and I understand the difficulty Klein likely had in figuring out how to get it to fit However, I suspect it could have benefited from either an alternative placement perhaps earlier in the book, amidst thephilosophical chapters , or a better lead in But despite the inconsistency in structure and approach, the quartet and the other independent chapters still provide great value.The last third of the book returns us to the brutal reality of revising a finished work Her chapter on twenty five revision techniques is immensely practical, the type of bare bones heavy lifting that every author should do, but that nobody likes to think or talk about This section is immediately applicable to anyone who has finished a written work of any length , and is now embarking on the revision process The concrete advice given here clearly stems from years of editing books as a career No shortcuts are given, no platitudes are offered writing is hard work, and Klein lays out a series of techniques to produce higher quality work.Second Sight An Editor s Talks on Writing, Revising, and Publishing Books for Children and Young Adults is unlike most of my writing library In general, that library consists of books that either try to lay out an all encompassing theoretical framework Forster, Gardner, Rand , analyze critical genre theory Mendelsohn, Clute, Suvin , or exhaustively detail a particular facet of writing Card, Kress, Propp Some of the books in my library are well worn the books I return to frequently as I think about my own writing Since getting my review copy of Second Sight An Editor s Talks on Writing, Revising, and Publishing Books for Children and Young Adults, it has never left my desk It doesn t answer the question of What is The Novel but it does answer the question What goes into an effective novel And for someone working on writing new works while revising what they have already written, I suspect this is the most important question.NOTE As I mention above, Second Sight An Editor s Talks on Writing, Revising, and Publishing Books for Children and Young Adults is a self published book, and can be ordered from Cheryl B Klein s web site at Also, be sure to check out her great blog. I found this book to be a little bit of a mixed bag.On the good side It s absolutely chock full of stellar advice Klein brings an obvious wealth of experience to the table and she shares in gems of solid detail, instead of the often useless generalities found in similar books Almost everything she has to say is of worth to writers of all stripes, not just YA writers.On the bad side I found myself continually frustrated by the lack of organization in the presentation of the material The chapters are presented basically verbatim from blog posts and conference talks with little attempt to eliminate redundancies or coordinate subjects In the end, however, I ll both be keeping the book for my private library and recommending to others, since its insights finally outweighed the aggravation of their presentation. Second Sight is an instructive collection of blog posts and speeches given by editor Cheryl Klein at writer s conferences The book offers helpful examples and contains several writing exercises What sets this book apart from other writing guides is Klein s experience working as a continuity editor on the American editions of the sixth and seventh Harry Potter books she often discusses J.K Rowling s narrative style and examines the HP books in order to teach successful storytelling.