Friday, February 1, 2013

Advice for Beginning Writers Part 2

So now you know how you're going to write. You've got your pen or your keyboard. What now?

Most Craft-Of-Writing books are full of useless advice.

Don't put in excess information (info dump). Yeah, obviously. But if you're a beginner, how do you recognize what's excess and what's not?

Don't begin with a description of the weather.  Okay, that's only because of Bulwer Lytton's "It was a dark and stormy night" and that is only considered bad writing these days because it GOES ON
That's all one sentence.

Weather is not the problem. If the weather is intrinsic to your opening, begin with it. You can make it work.

There are many synonyms for the word 'said'.  Yes. Yes there are. Don't use them. Really.

When one is reading, 'said' tends to disappear, unless you tack it on every single line. Words like 'responded', 'announced', 'remarked', 'verbalized' - the eye will begin to catch them, and then the reader will start noting how extensive your thesaurus is and not paying attention to the dialogue. So save those synonyms for when portraying how a sentence is muttered, recited, or declared really matters.

Where would I say to go for craft advice?

If you're like me, if you go looking for a book on how to grind coffee, you want a step by step description of how coffee is ground. Practical advice. Not a description of how great coffee is and where it comes from and the history of coffee grinders.

I don't actually know if grinding coffee is that involved. I use a Keurig.

Anyhow. The point is, if you're looking for an actual How To book that describes the nuts & bolts of building a story, then I recommend without hesitation Plot & Structure by James Scott Bell.

If you have an idea for a book, this will get you going on how to set it up and write it.

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