Handbooks for the Soul

For thirty years Newlove has worked on a series of books for writers and readers, works he calls Handbooks for the Soul. They are First Paragraphs, about great openings in fiction and nonfiction; Painted Paragraphs, about inspired description; Invented Voices, about dialogue (which differs in every format whether short story, novel, stage play, screenplay and so on); Passion about ardor and desire in great writing; In Search of Lost Jamestown, about making myth when writing memoir, short story or a novel about your hometown; Tales of Lost Jamestown, about dramatizing your hometown for the stage; and most recently Perfection (released July 2012), a guide for revision and finishing a work forever, which includes Newlove’s lordly but fictional Paris Review interview that explains everything a writer will ever need to know about achieving the last deep lacquer of perfection, that finish which reflects your own face in short story and longer story, in screenplay, stage play and in triumphant short novel.

Handbooks currently available on Kindle from Otego Publishing:

PERFECTION: A Guide to Revision and Finishing a Work To Be Abandoned Forever. This sixth volume in a series “Handbooks for the Soul” shows the reader/writer what one leaves out of one’s writing, and so short-changes it, and what one might well put in to bring a work to its full bloom. Fifty years ago Donald Newlove had an alcoholic weekend with an older Alabama woman he picked up in Times Square, later wrote up three drafts about this weekend, and sent his fourth draft off to Evergreen Review, which published the episode as “The Dead Man’s Float of the Moon”. Years passed and, embarrassed by his bad writing, Newlove rewrote the story and published a very, very long version in Esquire as “Beautiful Soup”. Over the next ten or so years two film directors got him to write several fresh script versions for each of their projected films, a story he tells about in his foreword here. Later, he writes a stage version which is accepted by two theatres, in Florida and D.C., another story he tells about. Fifty years after the very first draft he now writes the revision which brings the story to perfection—a perfection you may judge only by reading the earlier four main versions from over the decades and given here. You will learn something intense and exciting by following Newlove’s Mammoth Cave search into himself and this work for self-discovery as a writer. One need only read over Tolstoy’s endless scribbles of revision for each handwritten page of War and Peace to see that genius is not enough, even with your pregnant young wife again and again recopying your genius’s most hair-splitting fresh word choices and your plot’s massive earthquakes. One morning Tolstoy came from his writing shack to the breakfast table in shock and announced to his stunned wife, “Natasha has eloped with Anatole Kuragin!” My God, what your characters will do, shedding their skins like snakes. The work, the work you have to do!

Passion: Ardor and Desire in Great Writing. This is the fourth volume in a series “Handbooks for the Soul” and is meant for a readership of writers and readers who seek inspired language in voice and storytelling. This volume lifts and focuses the series on the need for passion-driven subject matter in writing that awakens an inner rapture and leaves a reader moved for life.
Ecstatic energy empowers and gives us genius. We are a Beethoven of thanksgiving for our return from illness; we are Mahler grieving in darkness for a lost child. We fear terror, know rage over a lost penny, wrath when our creations fail us, fury over upset plans, fervor to make good, hope for heaven, joy at sunrise, desire for flesh and rebirth, love that stands tears in our eyes, hatred of unjust power pressing us down, greed to own, hunger for life, yearning for lost innocence, and we strive for power, fame, and wealth. These energies both bind and free us. Their grip enslaves yet makes us more than human. They lend focus and at times purposeful madness. But as the heart splits open all passions hang on one common thread: rapture. Only by being carried out of ourselves do we achieve inspired goals. At its most intense, one may kill or die for a passion. Even abstract passions can lead to suffering unto death. Great passion is deadly. You may not live through it.

The Lost Jamestown series:


“I write to make you aware of the many landscapes and layers of time you walk through daily in your home town,” Newlove states. Writers dramatizing their home towns and in search of heightened moments to bring out the past will find great help in Newlove’s In Search of Lost Jamestown. Be filled with lost weathers, buildings, streets, people, theaters and moments, now brought back with heartfelt but often uncanny freshness, just the thing to rip off if writing about your hometown! In Search of Lost Jamestown overflows with wit, tragedy and often myth-like description.


Tales of Lost Jamestown offers a stage version of In Search of Lost Jamestown and features four actors: Sarita Weeks, J. Ralph Carlson, Lucille Ball, and Donald Newlove who at times band into a Greek Chorus
SARITA: If you want to write about Lost Jamestown, all you have left are your feelings for the ever disappearing real Jamestown where once you bought chocolates at Betty Dixon’s on Third.
CHORUS: What you have left now is a mythical Jamestown—a flow of figures in a dream.
J. RALPH CARLSON: The Kaffestugan sign creaking in that chill hard blast—don’t you remember?—the tubs of pickled herring and Swedish meatballs? The steamy big iced windows when you first shared a table with Becky Nordstrom, now here from Oslo and bright-eyed and snappy from having dumped her husband?
DONALD: She had such rough-spoken and all-knowing humor. She might turn a guy down three times but he’d crawl back and still beg for a date. She was my age but five years older—and that girl was one lush force field of magnetic particles! Well, fresh from Sweden’s nude beaches, what do you expect?

Immortal Lost Jamestown combines In Search of Lost Jamestown and Tales of Lost Jamestown in one volume. These three works differ in format and intent. In Search of… guides readers and writers through the mythic reliving of gone-but-not-forgotten places, baking up a carrot cake with nuts and raisins and a hint ginger. Tales of … adds dimensions of drama and tragedy, the grip of live theater, layering a rich sweet icing on the cake. Finally, Immortal Lost Jamestown serves up the iced cake with dollop of ice cream to cleanse the palate as you savor the spicy and sweet pleasures separately or together.

Newlove’s titles with Otego Publishing can be found by clicking the pull-down links beneath his name in the black bar above, or click here to go to his author page on Amazon in a new window.