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24 January 2012

One too many books about writing...

Like most aspiring writers, over the years I have purchased, read, borrowed, highlighted and collected a variety of books about writing. While not one of those books has turned out to be the  Rosetta Stone on how to write (there is no such thing) each has proven to be a handy reference  demystifying the art of writing.  If I were to distill everything I've learned from these books into a single sentence it would be the following:  

Writing is a skill and it can be taught. 

Perhaps we are all  born storytellers, but we learn how to become writers. In elementary school we start tracing the alphabet. We then move on to reading about Dick and Jane and learn sentence structure. Eventually we are reading chapter novels, writing book reports, and essays that require a thesis statement. We gradually learned how to do all this and so it becomes second nature to us, so much so that when it comes to creative writing we often foolishly think we need only put pen to paper and we will have a story.  It is when the page remains defiantly blank that we realize we neglected to learn about story structure and effective plotting while we were literally learning to cross our t's and dot our i's.  

In order to learn something one must practice. 

Since I am a visual learner,  I plan to take each book about writing that I own and apply the lessons they teach to published works. If I can identify scene structure, effective description, good characterization, show vs. tell, and all the other "rules" about writing to a published work  I believe I will be able to apply it to my own writing and thus become a better storyteller.

In the upcoming weeks, I will be taking a look (not necessarily in the following order) at the Writer's Digest Elements of Fiction Writing books: 

  • DESCRIPTION by Monica Wood
  • SCENE & STRUCTURE by Jack Bickham

I hope you will join me in this learning experience!


Dustin said...

I've read Dynamic Characters a few times, but not the other two.
Looking forward to the blogs!

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