writing books

Specifics about craft, talent, technique, etc.
User avatar
yoyo123
Posts: 30
Joined: Thu Jan 24, 2013 1:56 pm
Location: USA

writing books

Postby yoyo123 » Wed Nov 25, 2015 6:44 am

Anyone have a favorite? I'm sure they have limited usefulness if you already know what you're doing, but as a relative beginner, I find I'm in need of something to help me along. I can't afford a class at the moment, so this seems a good place to start. Suggestions? I'm looking for something that focuses on improving mechanics.

kentagions
Posts: 233
Joined: Wed Mar 25, 2015 2:45 pm
Location: Saint Paul, Minnesota

Re: writing books

Postby kentagions » Wed Nov 25, 2015 8:49 am

http://www.writerswrite.com/bookreviews/how-to-write-science-fiction-fantasy-110125

At the above address you'll find a fairly good review of Orson Scott Card's How to Write Science Fiction & Fantasy. I picked it up second hand for $7.00.

OSC presents the marvelous world of speculative fiction with conversational ease. I felt like I was listening to my favorite uncle on a walk around a wooded lake. Chapters 3 and 4 will interest you particularly as they deal respectively with story construction and mechanical problems unique to F&SF. All concepts are explained clearly and with examples from further reading (Excerpts are included, but reading the works he mentions is instructional and recommended).

It is a short book that avoids the self aggrandizing asides written into the instructional books of some other successful authors. The language is ultimately accessible and highly informative at once, NEVER like a graduate level text. After finding it, I stopped looking.

Kent

User avatar
orbivillein
Posts: 123
Joined: Mon Mar 23, 2015 4:37 pm
Location: Anatoll

Re: writing books

Postby orbivillein » Wed Nov 25, 2015 9:43 am

Damon Knight, Creating Short Fiction, a primer of prose mechanics. If any book contains comprehensive prose composition method review, spans gaps, and beginner, intermediate, to advanced prose methods and concepts, this is close. This might be a first place to start and build from. Say hello to Fred.

A sample about "Plot."

Knight is possibly best known for "To Serve Man." He founded SFWA, is spouse of Kate Wilhelm, also cofounded Clarion Writers Workshop, and a Hugo winner, among other stellar distinctions.

User avatar
yoyo123
Posts: 30
Joined: Thu Jan 24, 2013 1:56 pm
Location: USA

Re: writing books

Postby yoyo123 » Wed Nov 25, 2015 9:45 am

Thanks. Do you recall if he discusses dialogue in this book?

User avatar
orbivillein
Posts: 123
Joined: Mon Mar 23, 2015 4:37 pm
Location: Anatoll

Re: writing books

Postby orbivillein » Wed Nov 25, 2015 10:04 am

Knight discusses dialogue in a one-page section -- pgs 167-68 -- with two dialogue exercises, and related topics, "Speech Tags," "Dialect," "Thought," "Viewpoint," "The Expository Lump." The first chapter's "Four Stages of a Writer's Development" section maps out a course of the writer journey, contains a blunt assessment of the first stage -- "daydream writing." After the dialogue section, Knight also broadly and bluntly assesses the publication marketplace.

I have other sources for more focused and extensive dialogue and thought development discussions, intensive and obtuse though. Studying Knight's and others' comparably easy reading and study writing books brought me along Knight's first three stages of writer development, brought me enough far along that the obtuse books I can now fathom.

User avatar
MattDovey
Posts: 329
Joined: Tue Sep 22, 2015 1:33 am
Location: England
Contact:

Re: writing books

Postby MattDovey » Wed Nov 25, 2015 2:51 pm

Stephen King's On Writing is very enjoyable; half auto-biography, half discussion of writing prose. Mostly just fascinating and easy reading.
Golden Pen winner v32 (2016)
Stories | About | Facebook | Twitter

User avatar
Martin L. Shoemaker
Posts: 4233
Joined: Wed Apr 06, 2011 7:20 am
Location: Michigan (more or less)
Contact:

Re: writing books

Postby Martin L. Shoemaker » Wed Nov 25, 2015 3:49 pm

StoryBundle.com has a bundle of writing books in honor of NaNoWriMo. Runs for another 36 days. Name your price for 13 great writing books. If you pay $25, they'll throw in the 12 books from last year, so that's a dollar a book!

This is not an endorsement. I've read some of these books, but by no means all of them. But I do know many of these writers, and I follow their advice in my own writing career, so I expect these books to line up with their advice. The bundle leans more toward the business side than the craft side, but there's a little of both here.

Stephen King's On Writing really shaped my thinking about the craft.
Martin L. Shoemaker
F:1V28,1V29
SF:4V28
HM:2/3V28,2/3/4V29,1/2/3V30
3rd:1V31

WRITE! WRITE! WRITE! WRITE! WRITE!
SUBMIT! SUBMIT! SUBMIT! SUBMIT! SUBMIT!
REPEAT! REPEAT! REPEAT! REPEAT! REPEAT!
Patience. Patience. Patience. Patience. Patience.
NNiNN

User avatar
bobsandiego
Posts: 1220
Joined: Thu Apr 26, 2012 8:27 pm
Location: SAN DIEGO CA USA
Contact:

Re: writing books

Postby bobsandiego » Wed Nov 25, 2015 5:25 pm

There have been some great suggestions here. Lots of great craft and story, and character how to's, but let me step to a different kind of writing book.
Building Great Sentences by Brooks Landon.
I got this as the audio lecture series but there is also a book version. Iy greatly changed how I approached crafting my sentences.

http://www.amazon.com/Building-Great-Se ... +sentences
Literary saboteur
Blog: http://www.robertmitchellevans.com/
HM X 5
SF X 3
F X 0
Current Rejection Streak: 0

User avatar
AliceBrook
Posts: 31
Joined: Wed Feb 25, 2015 11:53 pm

Re: writing books

Postby AliceBrook » Mon Nov 30, 2015 12:02 am

I've gone through quite a bit of these, mostly because I can't afford a workshop so I just made my own wotf008

Nancy Kress - Beginnings, Middles and Ends
James Scott Bell - Plot & Structure
Renni Browne & Dave King - Self-editing for Fiction Writers
David Manning - Revising Fiction, a handbook
Alan Watts's The 90-day novel is....interesting, but not that..it's more like a daily pep-talk, fitting to NaNoWriMo people, I think

I'm currently reading 20 Master Plots by Ronald Tobias (can you tell my weakness is always plot over character?). That ones okay, it gives you a signpost or two if you're lost.

These are all fine and great, but I don't think writing books and books on writing can help. At all. What an apprentice writer can do is read mindfully and critically - deconstruct short stories and novels, ask themselves Why/How does this work, What purpose does this character serve, Was that foreshadowing I saw? Can I see/expect the plot and how does the author twist my expectations?
You may learn quick tricks and how to be more observant when you read these books, but nothing beats doing it on your own. Of course, reading the books along with deconstructing stories yourself speeds the whole thing up.

Manning's handbook is awesome with revision, he gives you a list of questions, then gives examples and explains why you need to ask them (for ex, Is an important scene presented too briefly? and Do any elements fail to relate in some way to the overall conception?)
I highly recommend it, though, honestly, I've yet to use it. Going over 200+ questions for a short story is a bit much, but I'll definitely use it when I do a novel.

Kress' book opened my eyes to pattern of behaviour. We all know it, really. It's show the villain kicking a dog scene. But, just reading it, like a lesson, keeps it in the forefront of your mind, so you always notice it - both when it's lacking and when it's done well.

Also, the entire "Writing Excuses" podcast. It can be pretty useful. Oh, and Chuck Wendig's "Terrible Minds" blogs is enjoyable.
Last edited by AliceBrook on Mon Nov 30, 2015 12:06 am, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
AliceBrook
Posts: 31
Joined: Wed Feb 25, 2015 11:53 pm

Re: writing books

Postby AliceBrook » Mon Nov 30, 2015 12:05 am

Oh, how could I forget?!

Jeff VanderMeer's Wonderbook! I really loved that one, it's packed with exercises and examples and the artwork is jawdropping.

User avatar
yoyo123
Posts: 30
Joined: Thu Jan 24, 2013 1:56 pm
Location: USA

Re: writing books

Postby yoyo123 » Sat Dec 05, 2015 6:15 pm

Thank you for all the suggestions!

User avatar
dstein
Posts: 85
Joined: Wed Sep 09, 2015 8:51 am

Re: writing books

Postby dstein » Fri Dec 11, 2015 10:34 am

AliceBrook wrote:Oh, how could I forget?!

Jeff VanderMeer's Wonderbook! I really loved that one, it's packed with exercises and examples and the artwork is jawdropping.


My pick for sure! I find that books about "writing" never inspire me so much as something like Wonderbook, which is basically pure imagination kickstarting, printed psychedelia.

Beyond that I've found The Emotion Thesaurus, The Positive Trait Thesaurus, and The Negative Trait Thesaurus pretty helpful for body language. They absolutely destroy anything I've found online for writing body language and characterization.
V32Q3: HM
V32Q4: R
V33Q1: First-Place Finalist

LDWriter2
Posts: 3326
Joined: Sun May 13, 2012 8:59 pm
Location: Central Cailf.
Contact:

Re: writing books

Postby LDWriter2 » Sat Dec 12, 2015 8:05 pm

While look at Dave Farland's online workshop page I noticed he has a list of writing books he recommends and/or sells.

I just skimmed through them since that wasn't why I was there but I did notice I have one at least.
Working on turning Lead into Gold.

Four HMs From WotF
The latest was Q1'12
HM-quarter 4 Volume 32
One HM for another contest
published in Strange New Worlds Ten.
Another HM http://onthepremises.com/minis/mini_18.html


Return to “Writing: Craft, Talent, Technique”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Williamhawk and 1 guest