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.
Continue reading “Stanley Fish’s “How to Write a Sentence: and How to Read One””
Make every word your characters speak count
I reviewed William Noble’s Make That Scene on both Goodreads and in a bit more detail on my blog. That book was a gem, so I picked up Noble’s Shut Up! He explained and settled in for some good learnings.
Truth is, I’ve read the book twice in two years and will easily read it twice if not thrice more in the next few years. It’s that good.
Truly amusing to me is how little I retained from my first read. Of all that’s in the book, I locked on the gem about having characters ask each other questions to keep dialogue interesting, engaging and moving. Probably because I was writing lots of dialogue for a work-in-progress, Ritchie and Phyl (A Celebration of Life). That wonderful piece of advice became my big hammer for several dialogues in several works-in-progress. It’s an incredible tool all by itself and worth the price of admission.
But that, as noted, was what stuck with me from my first read. My second read had me dog-earing pages starting at 5 and several pages in each chapter thereafter.
For authors working on realistic, believable character exchanges – the book covers more than dialogue but dialogue is the main focus – it’s a must.
Continue reading “William Noble’s “‘Shut Up!’ He explained””
Lots of reading suggestions, lots about the business of writing, but…
This book is an interesting read and dated, both in a number of ways. The two main takeaways seem to be “Publishers are Evil…but not all” and “Read! If you want to write, read!”
There’s no question that Koontz is a bestselling author so one would think he’d have a lot to offer. I didn’t find much revelatory in this book. Definitely a lack of advice re technique, character, plot, dialogue, … Definitely lots of suggestions for whom to read to learn technique, character, plot, dialogue, …
There’s a lot about the business of writing in the book, specifically how bad publishing drives out good publishing (read “lots of bad books drive out good books”) and he gives several examples of poorly written, edited, printed, …books taking up bookstore shelves so there’s less room for accomplished writers to put their wares out.
Makes one wonder what he’d have to say about the self-publishing industry.
Continue reading “Dean Koontz’s “How to Write Best Selling 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.
Continue reading “Macauley and Lanning’s “Technique in Fiction””
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.
Continue reading “On Writing Science Fiction: The Editors Strike Back”