Over the course of 16 short chapters, covering grammar, research, style, editing, and publishing, Petersen guides you, the would-be nature writer, through the wilderness of freelance writing. Petersen assumes that you are already yearning to write compellingly about nature if only you knew how. Thus, he spends his 200 pages focusing on the basics of writing, offering humor, sober advice, helpful tips, clever writing exercises, and a good bibliography.
Oddly, there is very little discussion about nature writing per se in Writing Naturally, and this is the work's only shortcoming. This dearth of discussion is partly intentional, because Petersen, in an effort to encourage his readers to develop an honest, natural, and true voice, refuses to lay down rigid rules about how to write. Honesty and reflection, he conveys, bridge the divide between humanity and nature. Still, an essay on the nature of nature writing would have helped ground the book.
Writing Naturally: A Down to Earth Guide to Nature Writing, by David Petersen, with a foreword by H. Emerson Blake. Johnson Books, Boulder, Colo., 2001. Bibliography, index. 200 pages.