Tag Archives: literature

How to choose the right books about writing?

Marcy L. turned to me with this question and though I can only guess answers to most of the questions, I can be confident, when replying to this one. I should – I’ve spent most of the last year reading one “how to write” book after another.

My advice would be this: there is no one book out there to fill you with skills you need as a writer. There really isn’t – one writer prefers one writing style, another seeks help from a different book, but there really isn’t one that would suit them all. This seems quite frustrating answer?

I would suggest instead of reading them all, which in the end gets very confusing, choose one and learn it by heart. By this I don’t mean to go and pick something random, you still need to read a bit to understand what they are about, but instead of getting them all, try finding one that calls out to you and stick with that one.

There are two things beginners love to forget: you do need to learn tricks of the trade in order to go pass “got idea, wrote it, it repeats what I wrote yesterday” phase and one book does give those tricks to you, you just need to actually use it. And I mean use it. Not go on to next one, because it didn’t make sense. Most of the beginners books have the same built and they take you through the all the necessary brick work. The difference is just in the mortal used to build the wall with the bricks.

I’m very fond of Donald Maass and Write Great Fiction series and don’t get me started on Dean Koontz book that came out in 1970s! James Frey and Nancy Kress have same style books, but I couldn’t get myself read them through. Yet I know they are just as good to teach you all the basics. The difference really is in which of the author suits with you and when you’ve found it, stick with the teachings and actually take the time to go through the exercises and try it out.

There is criticism, which I’ve often faced too, that if you have talent, you don’t need to know rules and you don’t need to mess your talent up by learning to push it in boundaries. That’s all very nice and I gladly shake hands with anyone, who is aware they’ve got talent, but it is sad site when such talents write and wait for someone to come and reclaim them, if one could say so. Unless you add work to it and get yourself some firewood for that phoenix, you will only see the ashes.

If you don’t know where to begin, I’d suggest Donald Maass “Writing the breakout novel” or anything from Write Great Fiction series. Nancy Kress series are also good to understand the tools. One thing is sure – most of us don’t have good courses to take or clubs to join, but this doesn’t mean you must parish without good teachings. It’s just about finding a good book and after that a library.


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I am not what I write

I started writing this with clear image of what I wanted to say. Now I don’t think it’s that easy.

We all remember the article about a teacher, who was socially blackmailed for writing fantasy erotic novels. I call it social blackmail, because what else would it be if other grownups start a campaign against someone? I had completely forgotten the article until I saw an old video I had liked on youtube from one of her graduate students and it made me think of the values I am presenting in my writing or what I’m expected to present.

The latter is what made me think if I’m possibly risking the same faith?

When I write, when I create a character, I never thought I should play fair with it and write someone that reflects me. Yet when I present the story, with girl, who kills a woman, man who rapes another, youth with drinking problem, a serial killer, grownups playing hide-and-seek, I receive this weird glance filled with questions. They just are what they are – different people, animals with their own characteristics and their own problems.

There is a movie called Crossing Over by Wayne Kramer.  In that film a 15-year-old girl, Taslima Jahangir presents a paper in school that is so misinterpreted by the authorities she gets deported from US. I have seen parts of this movie several times, but it never called for me to watch it. I don’t like this kind of humane dramas, because I can’t afford falling apart before the tv like that. Until I saw this part of the movie and it did exactly that. It made me think how many of such “probable threat” youth have been mishandled like that in real life? Is it really so that you can be turned into terrorist for what you write? How far will be the time where fantasy becomes a taboo for not suiting the leading world? 

Everything has to be same color throughout. If you present yourself one way, it is appaling to western world that there could be different side of you that you don’t present so openly. You are what you write, you eat, you drink, you watch, you say.

Just because I write on these topic and write through their POV doesn’t make me support their cause more or justify their actions. To me there is strict line between literature and reality. For someone even to think that I would go and kill someone I don’t like, because I was capable of writing about this in my work is appalling to me. Good writer can write their characters whatever their own background compels them. I write about the serial killers, questionable characters and weird folk because that’s who they are. I won’t stop writing about them just to please anyone. Even if this means the story will not get published, I’m not writing for numbers. 

 It scares me that this is the world I’m entering with my writing, so I’m making the disclaimer right here:

All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.
I, as a real person, do not support killing anyone in real life, torture against both animals or humans, criminal acts, immoral behavior or anything else that is not in compliance with law or common ethical standards.

Now that this is off my chest I can turn back to writing my book, because I just found mighty interesting way the story could go…

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