Tag Archives: writing craft

Author in Progress, a No-holds-Barred Guide to Getting Published

Author in Progress, a No-Holds-Barred Guide to What It Really Takes to Get Published

by Therese Walsh, Editor & the Writer Unboxed Community

Book Review and Commentary     November 20, 2016

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Unbox your thinking. Unbox  your writing. If you are a reader of  the award-winning blog Writer Unboxed, then you know about this book on the skills of writing and the skills of getting published. Author in Progress has over 50 essays by some of the best writers, novelists, editors, and agents from the Writer Unboxed  community.

I’ve spent the last two weeks reading the essays. Lots to digest here, and I think it’s likely that this is one of those books that you will reach for during your writing journey and during your publishing journey.

In Part 1, literary agent Donald Maass tells us that “writing well doesn’t guarantee success,” so you can expect realistic perspectives. What should you do about literary trends? Maass makes a handy point about chasing trends. He also has some valuable thinking  about (Part 4)  “How much Craft Do you Need?”  I have about 30 writing craft books listed on this blog site (Reviews of Writing Craft Books) and more than that on my shelf. Enough? Have I read and explored enough of the craft?Maass says the “most important piece of craft is the one  you don’t know.” So, I keep reading and reviewing craft books, and I’m often finding tips and techniques I didn’t know. “The best writers never stop learning.”

Do you plot out your novels first in a sturdy organized fashion? Or, do you use your intuition and write organically and freely like Elmore Leonard, Tess Gerritsen, Stephen King, JRR Tolkien? Ray  Rhamey sorts it out in “Plot It, Or Pants It?”

The legendary “Muse” is a constant struggle for a lot of writers. Dave King will help you to recognize and search beyond ordinary inspirations. I loved this chapter because he names the ‘false muses.’

There are lots more in Author in Progress: diving into that first draft, harnessing revisions, creating authentic characters, how to handle critiques, beta readers, writing by ear, psychological struggles of a writing career, writing tribes, and the very helpful essay by Victoria Strauss of Writer Beware–“How Vulnerability Can Increase Over Time, and What You Can do About it.”

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You can purchase it here on Amazon for Kindle or soft cover.

 Visit WriterUnboxed.com for daily posts on writing and publishing.

 

My Recommended List of the Best Writing Books I’ve Read.


How to Write Short Stories and Use Them to Further Your Writing Career 
by James Scott Bell (book review here)

Creating Characters, The Complete Guide to Populating Your Fiction, by the Editors of Writer’s Digest
(book review here) 
Dialogue, The Art of Verbal Action for the Page, Stage, & Screen, by Robert McKee  (book review here)
The Annotated Dracula (Bram Stoker), Annotated by Mort Castle (book review here) (Also The Annotated Jane        Eyre (Charlotte Bronte) Annotated by K.M. Weiland)
How to Write Like Chekhov, Advice and Inspiration,
Editor Piero Brunello and Lena Lencek  (book review here)
Steering the Craft, A 21st-Century Guide to Sailing the Sea of Story, Ursula K. Le Guin (book review here)
Writing Wild, Tina Welling (book review here)
Writing Down the Bones, Natalie Goldberg (book review here)
Method Writing, Jack Grapes (book review here)
Zen in the Art of Writing, Ray Bradbury (book review here)
On Writing, A Memoir, Stephen King (book review here)

 

Writing Fiction, A Guide to Narrative Craft, by Janet Burroway. All the basics of how to write: the writing process, show vs. tell, characterization, fictional atmosphere and place, story structure and plot, point of view, theme, and revision.
Story, Robert McKee
Story Trumps StructureSteven James
The Fire in Fiction, Donald Maass
The Art of Fiction, John Gardner (I reread this book once a year, it’s that good)
Making Shapely Fiction, Jerome Stern
The Art of Character, David Corbett
Getting into Character, Brandilyn Collins
The Secret Miracle, the Novelist’s Handbook, edited by Daniel Alarcon
Becoming a Writer, Dorothea Brande
The Faith of a Writer, Life, Craft, Art, Joyce Carole Oates
If You Want to Write, Brenda Ueland
Reading like a Writer, Francine Prose
Elements of Style, Strunk & White

Best Editing Books for Writers:
Self-Editing for Fiction Writers, Renni Browne & Dave King
A Dash of Style, Noah Lukeman
The Grammar Bible, Michael Strumpf & Auriel Douglas
Line by Line, Claire Kehrwald Cook
The Careful Writer, Theodore M. Bernstein
Fowler’s Modern English Usage, Second Edition, Ernest Gowers
Chicago Manual of Style
Words Into Type, Third Edition, Skillin & Gay

Comments are welcome, please!

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Filed under Book Reviews, fiction, Fiction Writing, horror blogs, literature, short stories, short story blogs

Writing Wild!

Writing Wild by Tina Welling

Book Review and Commentary   May 2, 2016

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If you’re a nature lover, you will love this book. It goes beyond the act of writing and into the depths of conscious awareness. Using your intuitive nature creates a deep partnership with the natural world, so says Tina Welling. She is a novelist (three novels published by NAL), nonfiction author, an active hiker and cross country skier. And a skilled communicator with nature.

The goal of ‘writing wild’ is in the recognition of knowing ourselves through our natural world. Welling believes that while we receive nourishment from the earth, the earth receives nourishment from us. It is within this bond, within this exchange, that we can create our highest art.

The act of writing wild weaves inner and outer environments, the writer becoming conscious of this interconnectedness. How to do this? Welling suggests ‘spirit walks.’ Walking is figurative because the writer is to “set your butt on nature itself.” Sit on that log or flop down into the snow: breathe deeply, use all your senses, recall feelings or emotions.

This approach goes further than just observing nature or recording impressions. We are looking to create a new experience in this process of spirit walk. And there is a path to follow: naming, describing, interacting. I like how Welling asks us to follow Nature’s rules of creativity. Imitate the stillness of a mountain, follow the weave of a spider web, experience how a snowflake travels and lands on the earth.

Until reading this book, I did not really notice the degree of day becoming night in light transitions. Because Nature is pure energy, it can be your writing partner, says Welling. She has a section on mistakes that worked, releasing locked energy, and chance and synchronicity.

Welling knows from her own experiences with nature, that “what we create then creates us.” I found this whole book and its theories circular and very agreeable. How does all this directly help your writing? This approach and her exercises create a conscious clarity, insights, focused developments, which direct an ordered thinking of language, clean prose, and sensory data. And this is the authentic realm of the writer.

This is a book that teaches how to pay attention, open your heart, touch the hidden secrets, and speak. Skills that all serious writers need.

Visit Tina Wellling Website.

 

Tina Welling, author. CREDIT: David J Swift

Tina Welling, author. CREDIT: David J Swift

 

 

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My Recommended List of the Best Writing Books I’ve Read

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Writing Down the Bones, Natalie Goldberg (book review here)
Method Writing, Jack Grapes (book review here)
Zen in the Art of Writing, Ray Bradbury (book review here)
On Writing, A Memoir, Stephen King (book review here)

Writing Fiction, A Guide to Narrative Craft, by Janet Burroway. All the basics of how to write: the writing process, show vs. tell, characterization, fictional atmosphere and place, story structure and plot, point of view, theme, and revision.
Story, Robert McKee
Story Trumps StructureSteven James
The Fire in Fiction, Donald Maass
The Art of Fiction, John Gardner (I reread this book once a year, it’s that good)
Making Shapely Fiction, Jerome Stern
The Art of Character, David Corbett
Getting into Character, Brandilyn Collins
The Secret Miracle, the Novelist’s Handbook, edited by Daniel Alarcon
Becoming a Writer, Dorothea Brande
The Faith of a Writer, Life, Craft, Art, Joyce Carole Oates
If You Want to Write, Brenda Ueland
Reading like a Writer, Francine Prose
Elements of Style, Strunk & White

Best Editing Books for Writers:
Self-Editing for Fiction Writers, Renni Browne & Dave King
A Dash of Style, Noah Lukeman
The Grammar Bible, Michael Strumpf & Auriel Douglas
Line by Line, Claire Kehrwald Cook
The Careful Writer, Theodore M. Bernstein
Fowler’s Modern English Usage, Second Edition, Ernest Gowers
Chicago Manual of Style
Words Into Type, Third Edition, Skillin & Gay

 

 Next writing book on my list to review is

Steering the Craft, A 21st-Century Guide to Sailing the Sea of Story

by Ursula K. LeGuin.

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Filed under Book Reviews, fiction, Reading Fiction, short story blogs, tales of terror

Flesh and Blood and Bones of Writing, Natalie Goldberg

Writing Down the Bones, Freeing the Writer Within by Natalie Goldberg

Book Review and Commentary  April 13, 2016

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This is an intimate approach to the journey of writing. Goldberg is a writing teacher and a practitioner of Japanese Zen. Goldberg believes that learning to write–that’s the course ahead–hinges greatly on “first thoughts.” These first thoughts have tremendous energy and are unencumbered by the ego. So, this is like blood flowing, maybe gushing forth with your story. Speed here is the key. Keep the hand moving.

I actually like this path because it probably does free up the writer to let go of all the controls that might deter or stagnate a good story. Of course Goldberg says to trust the mind and body and create your own practice. These are the bones where you create the structure for yourself. Want to light a candle while writing or listen to music? Do it.

“We write in the moment.”  There’s a great emphasis on listening. Listen, not only to people but listen to the air, listen to the past, and listen to the future. This is the meat, the flesh, of a story or a character.

Goldberg identifies three things that all writers must do: read a lot; listen well and deeply; write a lot. Many writers have heard these points before. She adds … “Forget yourself. Disappear. ” So, really the effort is to let go of your own consciousness and allow the subconscious to lead.

Zen works from the theory of becoming whole,  and this is Goldberg’s theory too. There is a Zen interconnectedness  in your writing–feel it. It will certainly bring you beyond just storytelling and into the textures and details that all writing, especially in fiction, demand.

The importance of place, of memory, of emotions all are addressed in this book. “Shed doubt.” She writes that knowing your needs and tools on this path is essential for authenticity. Gosh, not a single word on adverbs. Who wouldn’t love this book?

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My Recommended List of the Best Writing Books I’ve Read

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Method Writing, Jack Grapes (book review here)
Zen in the Art of Writing, Ray Bradbury (book review here)
On Writing, A Memoir, Stephen King (book review here)

Writing Fiction, A Guide to Narrative Craft, by Janet Burroway. All the basics of how to write: the writing process, show vs. tell, characterization, fictional atmosphere and place, story structure and plot, point of view, theme, and revision.
Story, Robert McKee
Story Trumps StructureSteven James
The Fire in Fiction, Donald Maass
The Art of Fiction, John Gardner (I reread this book once a year, it’s that good)
Making Shapely Fiction, Jerome Stern
The Art of Character, David Corbett
Getting into Character, Brandilyn Collins
The Secret Miracle, the Novelist’s Handbook, edited by Daniel Alarcon
Becoming a Writer, Dorothea Brande
The Faith of a Writer, Life, Craft, Art, Joyce Carole Oates
If You Want to Write, Brenda Ueland
Reading like a Writer, Francine Prose
Elements of Style, Strunk & White

Best Editing Books for Writers:
Self-Editing for Fiction Writers, Renni Browne & Dave King
A Dash of Style, Noah Lukeman
The Grammar Bible, Michael Strumpf & Auriel Douglas
Line by Line, Claire Kehrwald Cook
The Careful Writer, Theodore M. Bernstein
Fowler’s Modern English Usage, Second Edition, Ernest Gowers
Chicago Manual of Style
Words Into Type, Third Edition, Skillin & Gay

 

Next writing book on my list to review, Writing Wild by Tina Welling

Comments welcome!

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Filed under Book Reviews, fiction, short story blogs