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Can you suggest...

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palmer



Joined: 30 Mar 2004
Posts: 1324
Can you suggest...  Reply with quote  

Can you suggest any novels that are particularly instructive in some aspect of good writing? Thanks.

Post Fri Dec 16, 2005 7:44 am   View user's profile Send private message
deb



Joined: 08 Mar 2004
Posts: 6325
Location: Montana
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Write, not because a book tells you how to do it, but because your soul tells you to do it.
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Post Fri Dec 16, 2005 9:19 am   View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail
palmer



Joined: 30 Mar 2004
Posts: 1324
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I wrote my first novel from the heart, and I mean straight from the heart and it went absolutely nowhere. I read some books on craft and started paying more attention to how other writers write.

Terry Pratchett, for instance, is a master at keeping things moving in the phsical sense -- nothing ever stands still. Pelecanos (not sure of the spelling) knows how to involve all the senses. Chris once recommended Salem's Lot for some aspects of plotting.

And since I started paying attention, my writing is twice as good. I don't know if that makes me a good writer or if I now only suck half as much, but it's a lot better than it was, and I want to keep getting better.

I think I still write sort of like me, though, and always want to.

So...any recommendations?

Post Fri Dec 16, 2005 5:18 pm   View user's profile Send private message
Ginjg



Joined: 04 Sep 2004
Posts: 6617
Location: Los Angeles
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As Gracie said On Writing is an excellent book about writing technique, and it's just a good read as well.
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Post Fri Dec 16, 2005 6:10 pm   View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website AIM Address
chris
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Joined: 02 Mar 2004
Posts: 3833
Location: People Republic of Northern California
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Palmer:

Lawrence Blocks books on craft are very hands-on, nuts and bolts, and you can actually learn some technique there. I may have recommended these before, but I really do think the guy "gets" the kind of questions people learning the craft ask -- Like, "How do you handle time and tense in flashbacks." Stuff like that.


In the Author's Blessing in Lamb, it says something like,

"All books achieve perfection, either by what they are, or what they are not."

It's the same for learning how to write from a book. Sometimes a horrid book will teach you more than a good one. You can look at something that's really badly done and if you can identify what the author did, you can avoid that in your own work. Sometimes a really good writer may be doing things that are out of your grasp right now. I certainly find that with writers like Fitzgerald. But crap can actually teach you how not to write crap. I know that when I was learning my chops, my stuff was closer to crap than to Fitzgerald (it still is, in fact), so I tried to spend my time swimming away from the crap, rather than swimming to someplace that I didn't know the location of.

Did that make any sense?

Post Fri Dec 16, 2005 7:50 pm   View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Visit poster's website
palmer



Joined: 30 Mar 2004
Posts: 1324
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chris wrote:
Palmer:

Lawrence Blocks books on craft are very hands-on, nuts and bolts, and you can actually learn some technique there. I may have recommended these before, but I really do think the guy "gets" the kind of questions people learning the craft ask -- Like, "How do you handle time and tense in flashbacks." Stuff like that.


In the Author's Blessing in Lamb, it says something like,

"All books achieve perfection, either by what they are, or what they are not."

It's the same for learning how to write from a book. Sometimes a horrid book will teach you more than a good one. You can look at something that's really badly done and if you can identify what the author did, you can avoid that in your own work. Sometimes a really good writer may be doing things that are out of your grasp right now. I certainly find that with writers like Fitzgerald. But crap can actually teach you how not to write crap. I know that when I was learning my chops, my stuff was closer to crap than to Fitzgerald (it still is, in fact), so I tried to spend my time swimming away from the crap, rather than swimming to someplace that I didn't know the location of.

Did that make any sense?


Perfect. I agree the Block stuff is great, too. Every once in a while, I read someone's first draft of something -- I find that it is easier to identify weakness or errors in another person's writing than in my own, and then I can bring a bit of what I've learned back to my own efforts.

So, I'll grab my copy of Block off the shelf and reread it.

Thanks.

P.S. - One of the things I really admire about your writing is how seemingly effortlessly you establish a mood. Funny, too! I'm really impatient for the next one.

Post Fri Dec 16, 2005 8:27 pm   View user's profile Send private message
Taco Bob



Joined: 12 Apr 2004
Posts: 1201
Location: Palm Falls, Florida
learning from crap  Reply with quote  

Quote:
CM: Sometimes a horrid book will teach you more than a good one. You can look at something that's really badly done and if you can identify what the author did, you can avoid that in your own work.


Quote:
Palmer: Every once in a while, I read someone's first draft of something -- I find that it is easier to identify weakness or errors in another person's writing than in my own, and then I can bring a bit of what I've learned back to my own efforts.


I probably learned more reading other folk's subs and the crits they got than my own on the Internet Writers Workshop when I was there. I might read something pretty good, but seems to be off a little somehow. Then a crit from someone that knows comes along and nails it.

Also on that list I seen cases where folks who really got the technical aspects of writing down aren't necessarily good writers. They're often great critters, but their stuff is dry as toast.

Back to crap - I'm not so interested in reading stuff anymore that's just okay. I want to read the very best, cuz though I got a helluva long way to go, that's what I need to be aiming for.

Post Sat Dec 17, 2005 10:53 am   View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
Boota



Joined: 09 Apr 2004
Posts: 830
Location: Kokomo, Indiana
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Personally, I love it when I stumble onto some crap. Especially something that is crap from a major publisher. Gives me hope. Smile
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Post Sat Dec 17, 2005 2:41 pm   View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
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