Finished 2-10-09, rating 4, writing reference, pub. 2006
But if your confidence is bursting and you are sure your new approach will work, then go for it. Never, ever, assume that you must march to the same beat as everyone else.
And make your own rules.
Last lines of the book
When you read interviews with published authors the advice that is most often given is to write. So, I have always viewed writing instruction books with a skeptical eye. But, Writer’s Digest has all of these writing books on clearance and I decided to pick some up cheap. This is the second one I’ve read and it was a good read.
Each of the 29 blunders was covered in a chapter of 4-7 pages, which was long enough to address the issue and not too long as to make me close the book and not pick it back up. These blunders were basic, but the way he wrote about each one took it one step further. He didn’t only address point of view, slang, cliques, but also how each was perceived by the reader. Many of the blunders in this book he blames on laziness by the writer, but I also think a beginning writer faces the challenges he lays out. Some of the chapters overlapped in content, but, for the most part, it was good.
This book is written for the fiction writer. He differentiates between the fiction narrative and journalism and how the rules for one are not the same as for the other. These blunders are all about building tension in your story and keeping the reader invested in your book.
There are so many blunders that it is somewhat overwhelming. If I was trying to remember everything in this book I wouldn’t be able to write a word! That is why I quoted what I did at the top, because it was a great way to end the book. I think my writing will be better off for having read this book.
Finished 2-2-09, rating 3/5, writing instruction, pub. 2005
High tension dialogue calls for fewer beats (less stage business). More beats will elongate a scene, as when characters get to know each other over dinner.
Never resolve one conflict before presenting another.
The first idea that occurs to you for resolving a plot problem will be the first to occur to the reader as well. So think again.
In fiction, as in real life, what is suggested is far more powerful than what is revealed.
This is just a sampling of the tips you will receive in this small book. It looks and reads like the gift book Life”e Little Instruction Book, but is chock full of advice for writers, most specifically fiction writers. There are more than 300 thoughtful reasons to buy this book. It covers characterization, dialogue, plot, fiction techniques, style and voice.
There was no groundbreaking insight here, but I did enjoy it and think it worthwhile. The suggestions were good and forced you to look at your own work and possibly find weak spots. Some of what was covered I’ve read other places, but in this format it worked to jump start my thoughts and ideas, instead of making me want to take notes.
Included are quotes from established and diverse authors such as Mark Twain, David Sedaris,Virginia Woolf, Elmore Leonard, Vladimir Nabokov, and James Michener. There were also a few exercises sprinkled throughout and some solid suggestions for name choice and editing dialogue.
This is not an instruction book. It is more of an inspiration book. I read the whole thing in a hour or so and came away with a few new insights and ideas and a renewed excitement to start writing.
This is a wonderful gift for the writer in your life. It is published by Writer’s Digest Books and is on sale -50% off- for $4.50 (link here), which is a good deal for a thoughtful gift.
How Not to Write a Novel. Finished 8-26-08, rating 4.5/5, how-to/writing, pub. 2008
“As a writer you have only one job:to make the reader turn the page.” page 1
If there is one thing this How-Not-To book does it is to make you turn the page. You won’t want to stop, really. This hilarious book focuses on the 200 most common mistakes that unpublished authors make and offers solutions. It provides examples of the bad writing that it is offering up for ridicule, followed by an explanation and how to fix it (if you want to be published). Let me provide a couple of examples…
“While it is your job to know a great deal about your characters, it is seldom necessary to share it all with the reader, and by ‘seldom,’ we mean ‘never.’ ” page 10
“…you should think twice before using an exclamation mark. If you have thought twice and the exclamation mark is still there, think about it three times, or however many times it takes until you delete it.” page 111
The book covers all points of your novel from plot and style to dealing with the publishing world. This is a must have for anyone writing, or even just thinking about writing, a novel. Every fiction writer will gain insight from this book and be completely entertained along the way. I found myself laughing out loud more than once, shaking my head at the poor writer being scorned until I came to the next mistake and realized that the poor writer was me. Highly recommended for all writers of fiction.
“However, if you have perversely refused to use the lessons offered in this book as we intended, and instead avoided each of the mistakes we describe, perhaps you now find yourself a published author. In that case, our follow-up book, How Not to Make a Living Wage, will be indispensable.” -the last page