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Author Topic: #3 - BookMarc#2  (Read 2547 times)

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Bob Mueller

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#3 - BookMarc#2
« on: October 15, 2006, 12:52:30 PM »

 Date:         Wednesday, November 18, 1998 06:31 PM

Bookmarc #2
Basics Before Getting Started

No one can teach you to write fiction. Say what? I really believe that. It's a process you have to work through yourself, to find your style and your voice--just as your telephone voice is different from your speaking voice, so too is your fiction- writing voice. You have to develop a smoothness that only comes from writing and rewriting until you learn how to lead one sentence into another, one paragraph to another, and one chapter into another. You have to hone your skills just like any other craftsman. But writing is something we do everyday, right? Like walking. But just because we can walk eight miles, does that mean we can climb Mount Everest? Then why would we believe we could jump right in and write a great novel without taking the time to learn the craft? To practice it. To polish our words like a cabinet maker puts a fine sheen on a table top.

Now while no one can teach you to write fiction, they CAN teach you the elements, plotting, building of characters, what makes dialogue work--the rules, folks. We need to know the rules so we know how to break them. It took me a bunch of years to realize this, and part of the reason for writing these treatises is to help you avoid the mistakes I made.

Sometime toward the beginning of your writing efforts it would be a good idea to check out local college extension courses on fiction writing. You don't want an English teacher whose idea of creative writing is correct grammar. "Write me a story on what you did on your summer vacation." You want some one with credits to their name, people who actually have novels or short stories in print.

The same thing goes for books on writing. A book can't give you a successful formula either, but it can point out the step ping stones on which to balance while crossing the river.

The trouble with many books on writing is that they are difficult to read. Does that sound right? Good writing should be fun to read. Mark Twain or Nathaniel Hawthorne, depending on who you talk to, is quoted as saying, "easy reading is hard writing." Well, if the authors are trying to teach us how to write easy-reading, shouldn't their books on writing be easy reading? Or at least interesting reading? I include myself in what I'm saying here. If you are having trouble reading my stuff, hey guys, I probably don't know what I'm talking about.

I remember once buying, hard cash, a book on the history of Israel, because I was interested it relating it to the Bible. The author had many letters after his name and the book was praised in a review. After plowing through ten pages of parenthesis and words in quotes and convoluted phrases that went on for six or eight lines, I threw it aside. This man might have had a captive student audience, and I pity them, but not me. Maybe it worked for content, but not for easy-reading.

Two of the best books on writing, in my opinion, are "Stein on Writing" by Sol Stein, and "Self Editing for Fiction Writers" by Renni Browne and Dave King. I wish I had these books twenty years ago. Today I'd be a millionaire best seller. Oh yeah.

Lastly, if we want to write easy-reading, we have to read books that are easy reading. Not books written thirty or forty years ago, but those written today. Television and movies have changed the perception of how we view stories, instant starts and building scenes rather than the slow pace of long-ago novels. So choose the genre you're interested in writing, and read for pleasure and to see how they do it. When I am not writing I'm usually reading. And with audio books, I'm even at it while riding my lawnmower on in the car. We'll talk more about this.

Okay, I think in Bookmarc #3 we're ready to get started.

Copyright Peter E. Abresch BookMarc February 13, 1998
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Bob

Sometimes it takes therapy to put the past behind you. Other times, it takes a 20 gallon trash bag and a couple of cinder blocks.
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