This post was written for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group where we share our encouragement or insecurities on the first Wednesday of the month, to join the group or find out more click here.
PK Hrezo | Cathrina Constantine | PJ Colando | Kim Lajevardi | Sandra Cox
OPTIONAL IWSG DAY QUESTION:
What is your favorite writing craft book? Think of a book that every time you read it you learn something, or you are inspired to write or try the new technique. And why?
This question has opened a can of worms. I’ve read over forty… maybe, fifty, or more books on how to write. I’ve even read books that had nothing to do with my genre and still learned something new.
Honestly, every how-to-write manual has something worth discovering.
I started, probably like you did, and read On Writing by Stephen King. I’m sure you’ll agree, it’s an easy and inspirational read by a writing legend.
Which led to more questions and more books.
A course in itself
Writing Fiction: a Guide to Narrative Craft by Janet Burroway
For the writer that has limited access to writing courses and wants a deep dive into writing fiction, this book is for you.
It touches on all the basics, with in-depth examples and detailed explanations on each facet of fiction writing.
I learned so much and landed up adding to my reading list from her recommendations in Appendix B.
EMOTIONAL DEPTH AND BOOK PACING
It’s an older book called: Techniques of the $elling Writer by Dwight V. Swain
Like Burroway’s, Swain’s book covers the basics. He also dives into the Motive-Reaction Unit and offers a deep explanation of Scene-Sequel Pattern that controls the story’s pace.
Characterization and POV became easier once I learned about the MRU. It took practice, but now I automatically choose one or all of these reactions: immediate instinct, first thought, physical response, dialogue.
Each character gets a turn, and it makes the characters come alive. The drama reads as organic, and I love how it plays on the page.
Pacing in a project can be challenging. No drama, drama, drama or yawn, yawn, yawn. Using the scene – sequel pattern comes naturally to me now. It made my work less exhausting for my readers.
You’ve heard that each scene needs a protagonist with a goal which is blocked by the antagonist, creating conflict. When the protagonist doesn’t achieve their goal, the scene ends in disaster.
The sequel portion of the pattern is where the protagonist takes a moment to process their reaction, consider their dilemma, and decide what they’ll do next. This, of course, gives them a new goal which leads to another scene.
The internet was a great place to find grammar and punctuation advice. I have a few go-to sites like: uToronto, Purdue OWL.
I had all the grammar, punctuation, and fiction writing facets covered. What I needed after that was a way to express myself as a writer. To build expressive paragraphs, everyone needs to create beautiful, descriptive, sentences.
Artful Sentence: Syntax as Style by Virginia Tufte was how I learned to leave the simple to-be sentence behind and embrace the complex.
This book was not an easy read for me. The vocabulary had me looking up word after word. Inside, you’ll learn about every type of modifier, and their placement. This book is the how-to in building the complex sentence.
It turned me into an artist in my own mind. Yes, I’m making fun of myself.
Seriously, I feel so much more comfortable getting my words down now that I dug into her book.
Have you guested my secret?
Most of my non-fiction books are how-to-write manuals. Yes, like you, I have a bookcase full of them. They inspire me. I’ve never gotten through a chapter without jotting down an idea or thinking through some new angle.
What about you… What makes you obsessive? You don’t have to stick to writing on this one. Is it gardening? Your kids? Pets? Yeah, I want to know.
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