Book review: ‘Draft No. 4’ by John McPhee

Essays on factual writing.

Draft No. 4I can’t remember where I heard about this book. In fact, I’d forgotten all about it until I came across an obscure note I’d made about it yonks ago, and thought it sounded worth checking out.

Draft No. 4 comprises a number of pieces by veteran American non-fiction journalist and author John McPhee. The pieces are mainly about the process of writing long-form non-fiction articles (or ‘factual’ articles, as Higgs sometimes, more sensibly, refers to them). The individual chapters contain plenty of good advice and entertaining anecdotes—although I could have done without one multi-page account of an obsolete, bespoke text editor application!

A good read for non-fiction writers.


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