At long last I have finished with The Writer’s Digest Handbook of Short Story Writing and I have to say this is a book that you can safely pass by.
The problem, basically, is that it’s an old book. The original copyright is 1970, and the world of fiction, I’ve learned, does not stand still. Some of the problems are obvious and kind of interesting, like the article on submitting your work that urges you to clean the keys of your typewriter and install a fresh ribbon before typing up your manuscript for submission. The same article tells you to put your social security number on each page. Kind of made me long for those simpler times when we didn’t have to be quite so paranoid.
A lot of the book is angled toward selling your story to a general interest magazine, but how many magazines still publish fiction these days? Perhaps I’m wrong, but is Redbook even still published? Does Ladies’ Home Journal still print fiction?
There’s still some value to be found here, but I just think there must be more current volumes that can teach you the same things, plus more. Or just get a subscription to The Writer or Writer’s Digest and get current advice every month. Handbook… is out of print in any case, and not really worth searching for.