1. Hubardo
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    Hubardo Contributing Member Contributor

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    Reading about writing

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Hubardo, Jun 24, 2015.

    Writing is how to get better at writing, but reading about writing helps. How helpful has it been for you? What have you read about writing? Books, article etc
     
  2. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    This forum. :D ;)
     
  3. BookLover
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    BookLover Contributing Member

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    How helpful has it been? Well, when I practice what I read, it's helpful. When I just read it, and don't implement it, it's not helpful. lol It's hard to remember everything I read. I should probably put it to practice as soon as I read it. Sort of like how you say someone's name out loud as soon as you meet them to help remember that name? Usually I forget what I read, and then have to read the same tip over and over before it really cements itself into my brain, and then I put it to practice. It's not the quickest way of learning.

    The most helpful thing I've ever read about writing would be Chuck Palahniuk's craft essays.
     
  4. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    I've read a few how-to books/articles/essays, and none of them have really helped me. The biggest problem with how-to books is that they tend to lead to formulaic writing. In my humble opinion, you're much better off reading actual works of fiction and studying those.
     
  5. Hubardo
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    Hubardo Contributing Member Contributor

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    So off-topic, but I stumbled upon this today:

     
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  6. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I've read hundreds of books on writing, and most of them are worthless. They haven't helped me.

    I've read a huge pile of the Paris Review interviews with writers - I have several volumes of them, and they're available on the Paris Review website - and they definitely ARE helpful. They're also fascinating - it's amazing to see how different writers approach the craft, and how different they are.

    The best books on writing I've ever read are John Gardner's The Art of Fiction and On Becoming a Novelist. Gardner is not there to give you "tips" or techniques. He wants to inspire to towards creating art. He's tough, and a very stern taskmaster, but he's inspiring.
     
  7. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    When I first started, I checked out a dozen books on writing from the library. Then I skimmed through them and found a couple that hit the right note for me and I used them for a while.

    I notice other people have other preferences so I'm convinced it's a personal preference thing. The books like Orson Scott Card's that talk about the obvious didn't cut it for me. Telling me my character needed depth, who doesn't know that?

    But other books did have useful things in them for me. Lisa Cron's Wired for Story was so good I bought my own copy. I check Spunk and Bite out of the library from time to time as a reference to improve my writing vocabulary.

    Now I use Google and find advice on writers' blogs to be useful. Searching for 'filter words', 'show don't tell' or 'describing scenery' can offer one useful advice.
     
    Last edited: Jun 24, 2015
  8. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    Yes, those would be the books I didn't find useful either. I cringe when I hear things like 'mid-point plot reversal', and 'three act story arc'. Bleeeeach!

    :)
     
  9. BookLover
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    BookLover Contributing Member

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    That's the greatest thing I've seen all day.

    "My name is Chuck Palahniuk and I'm the author of... really just Fight Club. And since my audience, my readership, is growing older and having children and dying-” Ha ha ha. He is so funny.
     
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  10. 123456789
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    123456789 Contributing Member Contributor

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    That really depends on your style of learning. If you're a memorizer/index cards kind of person, then sure, how to books will just teach you to be formulaic. If, however, you analyze what you learn, your writing should benefit on a technical level.
     
  11. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    I'm a firm believer in reading good writing to see what constitutes good writing. I think books/articles that address specific aspects of writing can be helpful, but only if you have a pre-existing knowledge base from which to work.
     
  12. Aaron DC
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    Aaron DC Contributing Member

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    I am slowly reading Story, by Robert McKee. I would have preferred to buy the ebook but did not have an eReader at the time, so it's the last real book I bought in a big amazon splurge some time ago. It discusses the principles of screenwriting, but meh story is story. Plus my goal is to write a screen play for a scene from novel #2. It is dense with information ideas and examples. I read a paragraph and then put it down to think about what he has said and how it applies. Now that I have started designing my story, it makes a lot more sense.

    And I think that last point is key. There is possibly much more value in reading a book about writing once you actually start to write - even if it's just research (which tends to generate plot points and character and twists regardless of no intention thereto).

    Or maybe it's just my hands-on learning style preference, which is just as likely huh. Ah well. Eat the chicken and spit out the bones.
     
  13. drifter265
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    drifter265 Banned

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    I studied Dramatica (storymind) and hero's journey for the longest time. Really, only the former has helped me immensely and I would say it changed everything I thought I could know about story. I recommend everyone to read into it and understand it. It changed my life and now I can't look at stories any other way. Also, watching the same movies and tv shows and reading the same books that I love over and over again to try to understand why it is I like them so much and to emulate and incorporate their similar style into my own writing.
     
    Last edited: Jun 24, 2015
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  14. Viridian
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    Viridian Contributing Member Supporter

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    I've never read any books on writing. I love to read fiction and if its a great book I'm inspired by it and take from it what I can. The internet (this forum in particular) is my only source of information on 'how to do/how not to do'.
     
  15. VirtuallyRealistic
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    VirtuallyRealistic Active Member

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    I'm reading multiple books on writing right now. So far, they haven't done anything that changed the way I write in any significant manner, but what it has done is even better. It inspires me to write.

    I have trouble finding the inspiration to write a lot of days, but after reading a single chapter about writing the inspiration hits me. I don't know if it's just me, but it's similar to when I watch a youtube video about any subject; whether it's a TV show, a video game, a movie, etc. For example, when I watch a review about Breaking Bad I suddenly want to watch Breaking Bad. Or when I watch someone play or talk about Call of Duty it makes me want to play it. Hearing about a subject/activity makes me want to do that subject/activity.
     
  16. RevGeo
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    RevGeo Member

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    Fowler's Modern English Usage. I read it years ago, front to back, and still read it now.
     

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