A Must Read Book For Writers

The book in question is by Francine Prose, a great surname for a writer, and this book is different from every book I have read about writing.

I read books on the art of writing by Ray Bradbury, Stephen King, and Lajos Egri; I learned something from each. But the book by Prose has a unique approach. She breaks down writing by these chapters; Chapter one-Words, Chapter two-sentences, then Paragraphs, followed by Narration and then Dialogue, moving on to Details and Chapter nine Gesture. There are three additional chapters, but let me state how she goes about things.

She does not tell, she shows. For example in the chapter on dialogue she uses a book by Harry Green, Loving, and uses, say two pages of dialogue between two or three characters. She tells you what to expect before you read the passages from Green’s book, then explains following the passage what Green was doing, and why, and how.

And that is why the name of her book is Reading Like a Writer. She teaches you how to read, what to look for, the why and the how of what each writer was doing. And she uses examples from writers with different styles, each of whom have different approaches, but each has a way of doing things, that when you see and easily understand what the writer is doing, you can not help but to learn.

And think about the chapters, starting from words-choosing the right word and why, and of course using examples that always gives you the ah ha moment. Now I get it. She starts with words, then of course the sentence, and on and on’ a perfect structure for writing.

And this book is not just for writers, but for readers who want to enjoy stories with an understanding of how the bones are put together.

Her book subtitled A Guide for People Who Love Books and For Those Who Want to Write Them is an accurate description. I love books, and I love writing them. And because I love books I discovered in the course of examples she cited writers I was unfamiliar with, and whose books I have purchased. They are coming in a brown box from Amazon and I looking forward to reading these stories in a new way.

Naturally I could have read any of the unread books in my massive slush pile, but the examples of writers she used made me want to read them. So now thanks to Francine I have learned about Harry Green, about Stuart Dybek, and Heinrich Von Kleist. I have invited them into my home, new friends to encounter, and to learn from. 

It is always exciting to encounter a new writer-new to you-and exploring there stories and now thanks to Francine Prose’s book, I can read them in a way that will make me a better reader, and a better writer.

My-e-books on Amazon

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WHY THINKING IS BAD FOR WRITERS

The following is reposted from a previous incarnation of my writing blog “The quill, the e-word, the looniness.”

Thinking is not good for writers. Thinking means analyzing what you are doing, dissecting your sentence, your paragraph, your page. Is everything you want to say there? Is it said the correct way? And are you following all the rules those creative books say you should do? Does doing this numb the mind? If you want to improve your writing, then stop thinking and just write. And here is why.

In his book “Zen in the Art of Writing” Ray Bradbury says,  “. . . the more swiftly you write, the more honest you are. In hesitation is thought. In delay comes the effort for a style; instead of leaping upon truth which is the only style worth deadfalling or tiger-trapping.”

I don’t know what Bradbury means by ‘deadfalling or ‘tiger-trapping’, but I understand what he is talking about.

Style can not be calculated. Style is how you write and that reflects who you are; a writers style comes out of his being. Don’t be who you are not. It is impossible for me to write a tragedy, a serious drama, a heart warming love story, or an inspiring story. The reason is that my sense of humor, good or bad, always finds its way into the story. I can’t help myself. That is why the titles of my first two e-novels begins with the word “‘Loonies.” It is part of my world view that there is something loony about humanity, with how we think, our actions, and so on. Whether we recognize it or not we are kind of funny in a weird way.

So I write without thinking. I write with what is coming out of my head, entering my characters mouths’ giving me the opportunity to blame them for their actions or inactions. Consider these two phrases; “He who hesitates is lost?” and “To thine own self be true?” They apply to writing. Don’t think, just let you mind flow and be who you are. I write what I write in the way I write because that is who I am. It will work for you as well. So go trap a tiger.

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