1. Ree
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    Ree Member

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    Creative Writing book?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Ree, Jan 24, 2010.

    I'm new to creative writing and the first short story I ever wrote was for the contest here. :rolleyes: (Please keep that in mind if you read it. LOL.) My background is in engineering/product mgmt and I've dabbled in technical writing. I'm an avid reader and have a strong interest in writing fictional stories for fun.

    Can anyone recommend a creative writing book that would be helpful?

    Also, is there a thread here that tells member's background/profession? I'm curious if most have a writing/English/language education.

    Thanks for your help! :)
     
  2. ManhattanMss
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    ManhattanMss Contributing Member

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    Welcome to the world of fictioneering, Ree. I think if you read a lot, as you say you do, and have dabbled in technical writing, you may discover (as I did some years back) that fiction writing is freeing, challenging, and provides an ever-unfolding learning experience. My own educational background is not focused around English & language, but around philosophy (I dunno what I was thinking except that maybe I wanted to prepare myself for "everything" rather than "anything"). I have spent many years working with writers--all kinds of writers from playwrights to historians to poets to philosophers, and I've written "frank" fiction for about a dozen years ("frank" meaning that I'm not counting the promotional stuff I wrote as an entrepreneurial businessperson).

    There are writing books for all kinds of things--some lean more heavily toward the mechanics of writing (Sol Stein has a few that are very good) and others more with methods (lots of writers--some very well known--share their own approaches, what works and what interferes, and such), and (maybe) some leaning more toward writing as an artform (of which John Gardner's may be the best--arguably, of course). Then, of course, there are style books that help make good choices on punctuation and grammar (Strunk & White probably the most recommended). None of which substitutes for that "avidness" for reading you already have.

    My own experience has been that, while fiction writers may share certain kinds of attitudes about writing and storytelling, the real interesting (and freeing) part of the journey is to discover how different we are, one from another. There's something about that uniqueness that accounts for the enormous possibilities fiction-writing offers to those of us caught up in a sometimes elusive drive to exercise our own imagination through writing.

    I hope you enjoy the adventure.
     
  3. Rei
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    Rei Contributing Member Contributor

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    We all have very diverse educational backgrounds. I know of several writers who have science degrees. I personally have a two-year diploma in education/social work. Currently I am completing a one-year certificate program in behavioural science, focusing on autism.
     
  4. Evil Flamingo
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    Evil Flamingo Contributing Member Contributor

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    Crossroads by Diane Theil is an alright one.
     
  5. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    One problem with learning from creative writing books is that your writing may become formulaic. I find it's best to learn from your favorite books and authors. This gives you exposure to various styles of writing, and IMO this is much more helpful than any creative fiction book.
     
  6. Ashleigh
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    Ashleigh Contributing Member Contributor

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    Creative Writing by Linda Anderson is a good one, and was recommended by my Creative Writing course tutor. It's a big book, and very informative, so you get alot for your money. You can 'see inside' it first, if you look it up on Amazon. Hope this helps :)
     
  7. Ree
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    Ree Member

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    Thank you all for your responses! I'll check out your suggestions.

    Very interesting to read people's background too. :)

    Molly - Yes, it definitely feels freeing. I'm so used to taking engineering specs and translating them into marketing requirements.
     
  8. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    as 3rdwind notes, buying how-tos is not the best way to learn how to write good fiction... you'd be much better off spending that money and time on just reading good fiction!
     
  9. bruce
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    Writing the Short Story by Jack M. Bickham.
     
  10. HeinleinFan
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    Good books:
    Worlds of Wonder: How to Write Science Fiction and Fantasy by David Gerrold
    On Writing by Stephen King
    Elements of Style by Strunk & White
    Online resource: "How to Get My Job" by Jerry Pournelle is available here: http://www.jerrypournelle.com/slowchange/myjob.html
    Online resource: "Speech at Annapolis" by Robert A. Heinlein is available here in pdf form:
    http://technologydesignconsultants.com/InterestingDocuments/RobertHeinleinSpeechAtAnnapolis.pdf

    My background:
    I'm an avid reader and have been writing in my spare time, on and off, since fifth grade. I am currently an MIT student, majoring in biology, but I've taken a lot of writing classes here in order to force myself to keep writing despite the time crunch.

    I still think that the background doesn't matter nearly as much as having a small dose of creativity, a larger dose of sheer grit, time to read, and the will to force yourself to write. There are a lot of people who want to be an author. Only a small fraction of them will get published -- not because you need some magic talent, but because you must first write something, and many people find that actually sitting down to write is harder than they're willing to deal with.

    I'm somewhat hypocritical here, of course; I don't do nearly as much writing as I'd like. But I'm working at it, and have written a couple half-decent stories recently. I suppose if I can just keep plugging, I'll get there eventually, so that's what I'm doing.
     
  11. DvnMrtn
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    Writing Fiction by Janet Burroway is used for a lot of university level intro fiction classes.
    You could also try, On Writing by Steven King.

    The BEST way to learn though is through reading. I find, personally, that once you start writing your reading is different. You start to pick up on things that you didn't before and look at it from a writers perspective.
     

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