Stanley Fish’s “How to Write a Sentence: and How to Read One”

Is that an adverbial clause in your pocket or are you happy to see me?

How to Write a Sentence: and How to Read One was an interesting read that spawned my Great Opening Lines blog posts. I enjoyed it, didn’t always agree with it. The one truly fatal flaw (to me) is the lack of exercises, something like “Here’s a rotten sentence, fix it. See possible solutions in Appendix A”.

 
Fish’s explanations of what makes a sentence worth reading become – to me – increasingly complex as the book progresses. I was bordering on being lost by the time I got to his “First Sentences” chapter and started skimming, looking for the meat – the very thing he warns authors against – too many readers, when unsure of what’s going on – skim until they get to something they can understand.
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Ripping Out the Pattern

Ever try to write yourself out of trouble?

Susan (Wife/Partner/Princess) is an avid and talented knitter. She’s well beyond socks and scarves. She’s knit sweaters that would keep naked Eskimos warm. She’s knit shruggs (a kind of half-shawl that’s heavy like a rug and ever so warm and toasty!) that people line up for. Some of her projects are blow offs, easy-peasy and she does them to relax. Some are challenges. She does difficult patterns to teach herself so it’ll be easier the next time.

 
Sometimes – and it doesn’t matter whether it’s a new, difficult pattern or one she’s knitting from memory – she’ll stop, pull her needles from the yarn and “rip out the pattern.” She holds whatever she’s knitting in one hand, grabs the hanging yarn in the other and pulls.

All the stitches come out. All that knit-one-pearl-two gone. History. Obliterated. Forever. No CTL-Z, no undo, only a…
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Macauley and Lanning’s “Technique in Fiction”

A worthwhile read to get you to the next level regardless of what level you’re on

Nuance. Technique in Fiction is a must read because it teaches nuance.

It teaches much more. Just when I thought my brain had filled with as much technique and suggestion as possible, there’d be another bit that I had to write down and practice so I could remember it.

The basic takeaway is that authors should read this book after they’ve finished something big (novella, novel, novelette, noveletta, novina…okay, maybe not a novina) so they can figure out how to improve their writing during the rewrite/editing process. Story writers will also benefit provided they give themselves some down time between writing and editing so their minds can absorb what’s in these pages.

Great stuff!
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On Writing Science Fiction: The Editors Strike Back

A worthy read for authors regardless of genre

On Writing Science Fiction is about writing science fiction only as a topic, not as a focus. Somewhere in the book is a money-line about the book teaching writing first, fiction writing second and writing science fiction last.

Quite true and accurate! This book is a gem for anyone who wants to write. Don’t worry about the genre aspect, it’s a great study.
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Paul Darcy Bowles’ “StoryCrafting”

Paul Darcy Bowles’ “StoryCrafting” offers a good toolbox for writers at any point in their career

StoryCrafting is (so far) one of the best all-around books I’ve read on the art of writing. For one thing, Bowles spends a great deal of the book on revision/revising and gets into specifics; things to look for, things to be aware of, what not to do, what to definitely do, … Lots of books talk about revision/revising while not offering much about the mechanics of doing so (my opinion). Bowles also provides ample insight on subjects like POV, Character, Plot, Scene, … It’s truly an good toolbox for anyone learning their craft.

The best part of this is that Bowles demonstrates his process while honoring yours. He makes suggestions for your process and in the end, if something’s working for you and you know it’s working for you, don’t change it. Figure out why/how it’s working and make it better.

Sage words, that.
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