Saturday, May 30, 2009

More Guilty Pleasures

I've got more books on writing than I can bring myself to tell you. There's some justification. They've been essential tools in learning how to write. And then too writing is a solitary occupation and it's good to have a few old friends handy on shelf to turn to when I grind to a halt. But do I really need to have so many? In truth they are something of an addiction.So here are a few favourites. For inspiration, rather than technique there's Dorothea Brande's classic BECOMING A WRITER (first published 1934) and Brenda Ueland's IF YOU WANT TO WRITE (first published 1938). I wish I'd known Brenda - the biography in the front of her book notes that she received an international swimming record for the over-80s and was knighted by the King of Norway. As for her book, what woman writer wouldn't warm to this chapter heading: 'Why Women who do too much housework should neglect it for their writing.' Now that I've got it down from the shelf, I want to read it again. Also good when I need a pep talk are James M Frey's HOW TO WRITE A DAMN GOOD NOVEL II and Stephen King's ON WRITING.
Plot and structure are what I have always found most difficult and in the early days Robert J Ray's THE WEEK-END NOVELIST and Robert Mackee's STORY: SUBSTANCE, STRUCTURE, STYLE AND THE PRINCIPLES OF SCREEN WRITING were constant companions. I still go back to them. And then there's Lawrence's Block's books on writing, one of which has the great title, TELLING LIES FOR FUN AND PROFIT and . . .But you get the idea.
And do I find myself reading about writing instead of actually writing? What do you think?

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