A uniquely compelling, refreshingly practical and unimpeachably informed how-to guide for aspiring and published nature writers.
Most writers spend their days confined by four walls. Not so the nature writer. Nature writers, says David Petersen, author of Writing Naturally, "must spend every minute [they] can manage out there, in the most natural (wildest) possible environs." Nature writing, for Petersen's purposes, is nonfiction prose, usually in the first person, that celebrates "wild nature." That is, not pop science and not "gadget-flacking" outdoor recreation. Petersen's specificity about his subject, his infectious passion for it, and his just-plain-sensible advice make Writing Naturally utterly engaging and eminently useful. His suggestions concern, among other things, subject matter, length, and research: "Shoot for a thorough, detailed, yet tenably limited discussion of a limited topic," he says, "painted as concisely as possible without making the reader feel cramped." Petersen provides ample examples from the works of such beloved nature writers as Edward Abbey, Tim Cahill, and Terry Tempest Williams. And for those who guiltily shirk the writing exercises in books such as this, Petersen offers relief: his range from "optional" to "utterly optional." Ahhhhh. --Jane Steinberg