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Writing about Reading about Writing

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May. 14th, 2011 | 08:16 pm
mood: nerdynerdy

Post title is more than usually symmetrical on a word level. Nice.

I'm currently enjoying Donald Maass' The Fire in Fiction. Might actually do some of the writing exercises in it, as they seem fun.

Interestingly, most are actually editing exercises, e.g. "Choose a section of your manuscript in which two characters are conversing for roughly a page and rewrite it so that one character's responses are entirely nonverbal. Now rewrite it as a shouting match. Now rewrite it with no dialogue tags or actions interspersed. Now rewrite it so that one character is in love with the other, who doesn't reciprocate. Now rewrite it with one character drunk and the other one trying to get to sleep." Etc. (Do not interpret the quotation marks there to mean that I'm actually quoting the book.) (Also, if anyone has a scene in which all of these actually apply, I'd love to read it.)

It strikes me that I have read a lot of books on writing. A lot. Plus many issues of Writer's Digest. Many of my lessons in writing have come, of course, from actual books (and movies, and TV Tropes - note how I'm not linking to it and stealing your whole evening! You're welcome). Still, I do love some books about writing. After a certain point, a lot of their advice gets repetitive. Sometimes, though, you run across a shiny new take on writing advice, and that's always fun. So here are my favorites on the subject:

  • The Complete Guide to Writing Fantasy: Volume One by Tom Dullemond and Darin Park

  • The Fantasy Writer's Companion by Tee Morris and Valerie Griswold-Ford

  • How Not to Write a Novel: 200 Classic Mistakes and How to Avoid Them: A Misstep-by-Misstep Guide by Howard Mittelmark and Sandra Newman


This selection may or may not be slightly skewed toward my area of writing interest. But hey, having a narrower approach can make a book's tips stand out in a sea of, "Instead of telling, try showing!" and, "Practice moderation in adverbs."

Anyone got any to recommend? And, unrelatedly, anyone else really enjoy Thor? Good times.

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Comments {3}

"Also, I can kill you with my brain."

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from: toastedcheese
date: May. 16th, 2011 12:32 am (UTC)
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My favorites are Stephen King's On Writing and John Gardner's The Art of Fiction. I also liked Self-Editing for Fiction Writers (although I ignore some of the style advice in that one).

For genre fiction, Orson Scott Card's How to Write Science Fiction and Fantasy is good. It's basic, but still has helpful insights. He also wrote a book called Characters & Viewpoint, which again is for beginners but very good. Thinking about it, his writing is probably one of my biggest stylistic influences, which is funny because I haven't read anything by him in years.

This reminds me that I still haven't read Ursula LeGuin's Steering the Craft, her book on writing. Have got to get on that.

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Anica Lewis

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from: anicalewis
date: May. 18th, 2011 02:41 pm (UTC)
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Ooh, I like Stephen King's book, too.

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Scary4Eva

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from: scary4eva
date: May. 18th, 2011 09:18 am (UTC)
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I've only read Writing Magic: Creating Stories That Fly by Gail Carson Levine, which I thought was a wonderful book. And I've read The Making of a Writer by Joan Lowery Nixon, but that is more about her life and what influenced her writing. Still a good book though and she does give advice on writing.

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