Read, follow the checklists, and complete the exercises included with each chapter. Check your versions in the Answers to Exercises section of the book. Applying the techniques within this book will help you write, not just for publication, but something that is memorable.
"Authors who sell well are almost always certain to go to the highest bidder, and publishers can't reasonably afford to develop an author for a competing house." (Browne, King) The business of publishing changed, and those great editors who supported their clients and helped create stellar books are gone. The business is about making money. Therefore, "self editing is probably the only kind of editing your manuscript will ever get."
Chapter 1: Show and Tell. The difference is 'to tell' is to describe what happened through a narrative summary, while 'to show' is to experience what happens. With the use of cartoon sketches, the concept is clearly revealed. Yet, pacing is important and you accomplish this by slowing the scene with narrative summary, or descriptions.
Chapter 2: Characterization and Exposition. "A lot of readers seem to feel they have to give their readers a clear understanding of a new character before they can get on with their story." This stops the story. Each character is psychoanalyzed and physical details are listed. It may not seem like a list, but it is. "When you define your characters the minute you introduce them, you may be setting boundary lines..." rather than letting your characters grow.
Chapter 3: Point of View. Many times a switch in POV is subtle, but it changes the perspective and makes it hard for readers to relate to the characters in the scene, story, or book. The first person POV is limiting, yet it is an excellent exercise because you can only know what "I" experience. The omniscient POV is informative, and narrative summary is an aspect. In using the third person POV, which is the compromise between the two, it is imperative to stay in one person's mind for the entire sequence, or no interior monologues by multiple characters.
Chapter 4: Dialogue Mechanics. "If the dialogue doesn't work, the manuscript gets bounced." Many writers hate to use said, but it is transparent and does not require the reader to interpret the author's expression, which has taken the reader into the writer's head and away from what the characters say.
Chapter 5: See How It Sounds. "The creation of character voice ... is one of the most ... challenging acts you can create as a writer." Why? Every individual is different, each has their own voice, and so must your characters. In addition, the dialogue has to be meaningful. An inane conversation does not move the story forward, it is boring, and it stops the story. Listen to your dialogue aloud. Would you say it?
Chapter 6: Interior Monologue. Thoughts are constant, they interrupt our conversations by taking our attention elsewhere. We live different lives in our own minds, so do your characters, it is emotion and perception that makes them real, and interior monologue is the technique.
Chapter 7: Easy Beats. This is rhythm. A waltz is playing, what do you see? It is the Tennessee Waltz, your images change. Patti Page is not singing the song, a reggae band is. Each change creates a different feeling because each type of music has its own beat or connection. Scenes, words, dialogue, and events pace your story. "Beats enable your readers to picture the action in a scene."
Chapter 8: Breaking Up is Easy To Do. Frequent paragraphs can add tension just as a rapid-fire talk show host does. Readers' eyes move down the page more quickly, which adds momentum. However, maintaining this pace will wear you out, there will be no sudden surprise. Slowing the pace lulls the reader, provides intimacy, and creates suspense. Both are needed.
Chapter 9: Once is Usually Enough. Repeating words, phrases, descriptions, and effects are boring. When a reader knows that a map is missing in chapter one, they still know it in chapter five, they know it until it has been found. "When you try to accomplish the same effect twice, the weaker attempt is likely to undermine the power of the stronger one."
Chapter 10: Proportion. The setup in chapter one must be resolved in the climax, but if another event becomes more important, then the impact of the problem resolution is lost. If the object is to find the missing map, then a duel in a romantic liaison cannot take half the book; the proportion is off; that single event becomes more important than the premise itself.
Chapter 11: Sophistication. This contains a very good description of "the hack's favorite construction." Take care in using -ing words or linking events with as.
Chapter 12: Voice. "A strong, distinctive, authoritative writing voice is something most fiction writes want -- and something no editor or teacher can impart." It is individual, it belongs to you, and to each character you create. They are different; make sure your interior and exterior dialogue for each character is theirs.
Five stars. I recommend two books to writers, this is one of them.