1. Whitepaws

    Whitepaws Member

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    Looking for effective classes or craft books

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Whitepaws, Mar 11, 2021.

    I think I've taken about as many writing classes as I can possibly handle, and most of them were frustrating for various reasons. I even took an editing one where I ended up suing them because we got no teacher feedback for months, and they charged a fortune for that. I won.

    Having said that, there are a couple of classes that have made a positive impact on me and my craft. One of those classes is: https://members.jerichowriters.com/bazaar/self-editing-novel-online-course/

    In any case...

    Two fundamentals I've yet to master are show-don't-tell and writing emotion.

    If anyone can recommend a craft book or a good class in show-don't-tell and/or writing emotion, please let me know!

    I'm done with trial and error.

    Thank you!
     
  2. Xoic

    Xoic Prognosticator of Arcana Ridiculosum Contributor

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    I'm realizing (as I study grammar, which I apparently knew well in 7th & 8th grade!) that understanding show don't tell is largely a matter of learning to conjugate sentences. Learn to find the main subject and verb, and make sure the verb is active rather than passive. The subject should be doing something, not having something done to it. Don't squeeze the real action into clauses or prepositional phrases, put it front and center. Don't overuse adjectives and adverbs.

    So maybe one of the best craft books you can get is a grade-school grammar textbook. I'd say that majority of us could use some serious brushing-up on it.
     
  3. Whitepaws

    Whitepaws Member

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    What a great idea! Thank you!

    Simple, but effective. ;)
     
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  4. marshipan

    marshipan Contributor Contributor

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    The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer's Guide to Character Expression by Becca Puglisi
     
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  5. EFMingo

    EFMingo A Modern Dinosaur Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Well, I don't think you need to master "show, don't tell" because it isn't a real element in writing. I think you need to instead look atthe differences and purposes behind summary and scene. That fact of the matter is that telling is very useful often and shouldn't be cut out as much as you would think. Sometimes things need to move forward, or trivial bits can be glossed over in a few lines. Summarizing effectively is critical.

    As for classes, have you ever thought of attending, or at least auditing, some university level course in writing? There's a lot of them, many being online and audit-anle for reasonable prices. I learned a lot about all the different elements from my creative writing minor (about six classes aside my major) that set up a solid base in the elements you're looking for an more. Self-study really only gets you so far, and most outside writing classes are scams by semi-skilled writers trying to make ends meet.
     
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  6. Stormsong07

    Stormsong07 Contributor Contributor

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    I came here to recommend this but I see I was beaten to the punch. So I'll second @marshipan's recommendation!
     
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  7. Not the Territory

    Not the Territory Senior Member

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    100% agree with Xoic. Sometimes the building blocks are not there, or were never fully realized for the context of professional writing. Touching up on the basics will make that editing pass even easier.

    I recommend Eats, Shoots, and Leaves by Lynne Truss. It's a short and friendly grammar book.

    I also strongly recommend re-reading/analyzing books you like. I don't know of any successful writers who don't also read a lot of material.
     
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  8. Homer Potvin

    Homer Potvin Funky like your grandpa's drawers.... Staff Contributor

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    Here's the thing about writing classes and books about writing: they're all useless you know how to tell a story. Not saying that's what's going on your case, or even that storytelling can't be taught (well, it kind of can't), but no mode of instruction can teach you how to have interesting things to say. It's kind of like athletics. You can either ran fast or you can't. You can either jump high or you can't. No method of coaching can create skills that don't already exist. Don't get me wrong--genetics, intuition, and innate ability aren't everything--but they certainly help.
     
  9. Idiosyncratic

    Idiosyncratic Member

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    The best description of show vs tell I've found is in Self Editing for Fiction Writers by Renni Brown and Dave King. Particularly of note, it doesn't just say 'telling is bad, you should never tell', but gives specific examples of what each is and where one might be more effective than the other and why. It's also just a generally good resource for when you're working on later drafts since editing is a skill all its own. I've also had 'The Emotional Craft of Fiction' recommended to me by a friend with good taste, but as I"ve yet to read it myself I can't fully endorse it.

    While no craft book or class will ever be better than simply practicing and reading critically, they can be useful supplements, and personally, I just like to read them for fun.
     
    Last edited: Mar 13, 2021
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