February 21, 2008

Hot, Writing-on-Writing Action!

Posted in Reading, Writing tagged , , , , , at 7:29 pm by lifelessonsfromwriting

Writing itself is, strangely enough, a surprisingly difficult thing to write about. There are endless amounts of books, magazines and websites that will supposedly teach you how to write, but most people will tell you that the vast majority are fairly pointless. In fact, they’re all pointless on their own; if someone reads twenty of the best writing books in the world, then immediately attempts to write their first 5,000 word story, ever, you can be fairly certain that the result will suck. Badly.

Writing books are only useful when they go hand-in-hand with lots of practice, and this is assuming that whoever wrote the book is good at teaching in the first place. Unfortunately, merely being a good writer yourself doesn’t automatically make you good at teaching other people how to do it.

Having said that, I’ve come across a few books in my time that actually are very good, and which have greatly helped me improve my writing. I’ll add to this list as time goes on, so let me know if you’ve got a suggestion:

How to Write Science Fiction and Fantasy by Orson Scott Card

Obviously, this one is mainly of interest to those who want to write some form of SF (‘speculative fiction’), but it has a lot of excellent general advice as well. Of particular interest is the section on the ‘MICE quotient’, which really opened my eyes about how it’s possible to wreck your own story long before you even start writing it. (Possibly not what the author intended, but I mainly remember thing ‘Crap, I’m writing a Character story as if it was a Milieu one!’ upon reading this for the first time).

Self-Editing for Fiction Writers, Second Edition: How to Edit Yourself Into Print by Renni Browne & Dave King

This book is fantastic. Written by two professional editors, it takes you through a common mistakes that fiction writers make and gives you numerous ideas on how to correct them. The language is clear and, above all, concise (they don’t waffle needlessly), and it even has some entertaining little cartoons in each chapter!

Get your hands on a copy of this, read it, then immediately go through your own work-in-progress and be horrified at just how many of the mistakes listed in the book you’ve made.

Word Count for [untitled]: 13,571

Target word count for the end of the day: 14,200

Current word count for [untilted]: 14, 423