Sunday, May 15, 2016

A Creative Writing Course in Book Form

In my last post, I promised to write about a couple of exceptional writing guides I read recently. Today I'm going to focus on one of those books. It's called Mastering Fiction Writing by Kit Reed.

This morning I went over to Amazon to grab shopping links for this book, and the reviews there are an even 50/50 split. I'm truly surprised there aren't more reviews for this book overall. It used to be a college text book, and it's incredibly afforable, so I'm not sure quite what I was expecting. However I'm going to throw my gauntlet into the ring and tell you this is quite possibly the best, most helpful writing guide I've ever read. I truly mean that.

I read a sample of this book online, and I was sold within the first few pages. The author talks about how she spent years searching for the secret tricks, the paint-by-number set of rules for sucessful writing, and even after she knew better, she still kept searching for them. Talk about relatable. She
might as well have been writing about me.

Most writers, unpublished or published, have at some point heard other writers talk about "writing from character". This book covers that topic, explaining it from a primordial, developmental standpoint.

Ms. Reed suggests drawing character from our "alluvial sludge". In other words, she suggests forming them from our childhood experiences, and the personal triumphs and tragedies throughout our lives that have shaped us into who we are as individuals.

She further discusses how to create characters from those experiences, and from there, she explains how the first lines of a story propel the characters forward, guided by their own unique "inner logic" that hints at the direction the story will unfold.

This is invaluable information if you've ever created a character you love, but can't seem to get them to "do" anything on the page. And that is just one helpful facet of this guide.

Other chapters in Mastering Fiction Writing that I found especially helpful include:

  • Development 
  • Rewriting to Complete your Thinking*
  • Plot, Or: The List of the Lucky Seven
  • What to Leave Out and What to Put In
  • Audience
  • Discipline  
Mastering Fiction Writing gets my highest recommendation. It's basically a creative writing course in book form for as little as 1¢ (used, plus shipping) on Amazon. (print copies only, no digital) At 136 pages, it's a quick read with an absolute treasure trove of helpful writing advice packed in from cover to cover. If you'd like to buy a copy for yourself, you can find the book here: Mastering Fiction Writing / Kit Reed / Amazon 

*P.S. One more thing before I go... My favorite chapter in Mastering Fiction Writing is Rewriting to Complete Your Thinking.  If you read the book and find this section helpful, or if you're simply looking for books that focus on rewriting and revising, I recommend an additional book by Kit Reed called Revision, which is part of Writer's Digest Books' classic The Elements of Fiction Writing book series. You can buy a copy here: Revision / Kit Reed / Amazon 

Next week, I'll be discussing the other book I recently read that turned out to be a great writing guide. Until then, I'm sending you lots of happy wishes. •

Sunday, May 08, 2016

Happy Mother's Day

Happy Mother's Day to all the mothers out there. I'm going to visit my parents in the morning to check in on them and give my Mom a big hug. I didn't have the cash for fancy gifts this year, which kind of sucks, but I was able to buy cards...yes, cards, plural. Dad is a Mother's Day baby; he was born on the 10th, so each year we celebrate his birthday in tandem with Mother's Day.

I feel a little empty handed because I didn't bake them a cake this year, but Dad's diet has changed so drastically since he lost his kidney I've been afraid to attempt it. A friend of the family brought him animal crackers while he was in the hospital (there's significance behind that, but it's a very long story), and anyway, dad ate the animal crackers and it shot his blood sugar through the roof. The nurse had to come in and give him emergency insulin. Mercy.

I don't want to inadvertently take something over there food wise that might hurt him, so I've left the edible treats up to Mom. I think she planned to bake him a diabetic safe coconut pie, so that will be the birthday trimmings. Whatever works. For Mother's Day, just a long visit with my Mommy, and some pictures. I know all the above doesn't sound very exciting, I'm just glad I still have both my mom and my dad to spend the day with. That in itself is worth celebrating.

In writerly news, I'm finally closing in on the end of a short story. I'm actually very eager to finish this thing, and I'm trying not to rush it. I've gotten the bulk of it down on paper, and now I'm going back and filling it in. So far, so good. Hopefully it won't take me much longer to wrap it up, but at the same time I don't want to zoom through it and make a lot of mistakes, either. At any rate, once it's finished, I can move on to the next story in the cue.

One more thing before I go, I picked up a couple of writing guides recently that really resonated with me. I found them over at OpenLibrary.org and bought print copies to keep in my home office. Combined, they've managed to pry me out of non-writing shell and get me back to work again. In next post I'll write a little bit about them. If there's any chance they might help someone else, I'd love to pay it forward.

Sunday, May 01, 2016

A Creative Mess = Progress

Image by Kablam at OpenClipArt.
I just realized I need to clean my office. I don't usually let it get this far. It's a complete mess. Like, I'd close the door to hide this disaster zone if we had sudden visitors. It's that bad.

On the other hand, a sign of a messy office is a sign of progress being made elsewhere. I wrote a little more on my latest story this morning. It not only has legs, it now has a title! A title I'm keeping under wraps to keep from jinxing myself, but I will say that I'm extremely relieved that the idea fairy decided to sprinkle a little title magic over this one. I haven't had this much trouble coming up with a title since Dominant Territory.

Anyway, toward noon, Hubz, Mini, and I took a break and went to eat at Panda's. On returning home, I took some more cold meds, made a pot of  licorice root tea to try to tame my cough, and went back to work. I wrote a little more, and when the well dried up, I made two tester covers for the next release. I'm satisfied with one of them, so this week I'll be buying stock images for a new release. Woot!

So that's the latest. I'm back to the writing cave, and I'm  -t h i s-  close to wrapping up another short story. I'll post again when I have something more to say. Sending lovely vibes to everyone for the week ahead.