Thursday, January 20, 2011

There really is another way, Terri


Don’t roll your eyes, please.

But I think I’ve finally gotten it.

What’s that? you ask.

Or don’t.

Books on the writing craft.

Yeah, you read that correctly. I haven’t always understood what other writers have written about writing fiction.

I feel like Virginia. Yes, Terri, there really is a better way to learn how to write. Try it. Cut the shortcuts. Study the pros. Realize you won’t get it by osmosis.

I’ve been reading another good book on writing this week and as I go through it, I’m seeing the pieces come together. It IS important to understand pacing, and plot structure, and characterization. The list goes on and on.

So no more shortcuts here. I’m done being lazy or lax or someone who thinks it will come any other way. It won’t. At least not in my lifetime.

What shortcuts have you taken in hopes of getting published?

36 comments:

Wendy Paine Miller said...

You left us hanging...what book?

Taking that editing class this summer helped me get a feel for how ready I was and finding my critique partners. ;)

~ Wendy

Kenda said...

My shortcut seems to have been the flip side of WRITE, which is READ! While I love to read, it seemed like one more thing that I just didn't have "time" for, yet it should be high on the list for a writer, too. I'm trying to remedy that this year--and looking at my to-read pile, I should have fun! Great question.

Jessica Nelson said...

Uh-oh.
You got me. *blushing* I don't read craft books EVER. I get so bored by them, so I try to read articles on writing sometimes...but it's been awhile. I could probably use a brush-up. lol

Jennifer Shirk said...

What book?!

I just ordered one. But I forget the name. LOL I think Scene and Sequel? NO, Scene and Structure. I heard good things about it.

Lynn said...

You got me wondering which writing craft book you are reading. I have writing books on my shelf I have never read and my goal this year is to read one per month. I'm starting with Natalie's Goldberg's book Writing Down the Bones, for inspiration.

Emily said...

Reading parts of the book Writing the Breakout Novel got me out of a rut recently, but I guess I don't put much priority on studying books like this unless I'm in trouble with my writing. Using them this way is, I suppose, a bit of a shortcut, huh? I did get some writing magazines, which I read, for a few years throughout my career, and I think that taught me a lot in a non-shortcut way. I have found two things that teach me something new very quickly: writing conferences and professional feedback (which I've gotten through contests or, once, by hiring a freelance editor). I'm so glad you found something you can use! Like the others, I'm wondering, too... What book? :)

Terri Tiffany said...

I'm reading Jessica Page Morrell's other book, Between the Lines, I loved her other one, Thanks But this isn't for us so decided to get this one. SOme of it is review but the way she puts it all together, it makes me wonder why I fought so long against reading craft books.

Joanne Sher said...

Ohh - do I EVER need to read more craft books! Do I EEVVEERR. But what else I really need to do is read more books IN MY GENRE. Something else I haven't been doing. Baaaaddd Joanne ;)

Heather Sunseri said...

the biggest realization I made this past year was realizing that every one of my characters needed some sort of external goal. It helps with the pacing, the plotting and the building of each character's own personality.

Diane said...

I have never gotten a craft writing book. Will have to check one out and see for myself. :O)

Lin Floyd said...

regularly going to a critique group has been my best learning tool.

Cheryl Klarich said...

Thanks Terri! I also thought you were going to leave us hanging on the book title!

Thanks for the motivation!

K9friend said...

I've found submission opportunities with short deadlines, write like a fool, edit, and submit. Then I look at the piece a few days later and wonder...why did I send this????

Pat
www.critteralley.blogspot.com

B. WHITTINGTON said...

I've been writing for years and reading writing books just as long. Some of the things I've learned are actually just beginning to take hold. This is not a job for the weak or the sissies. This/writing is HARD. We learn by doing. Reading how others are doing it. Writing writing writing and then writing some more.
I'm still learning and I'm 65. Successful with stories not so with novels. I'm still going to make it to the pubbed novel. WE have to just keep on keeping on. Keep learning, keep writing.
You've hit a milestone, Terri.
Blessings. Barb

vvdenman.com said...

At first, I didn't want to take the time to read craft books because writing was so much more fun. Now I realize that reading about writing is lots of fun too. :)

Heckety said...

The Hub is the all-time A1 inventor and peruser of short-cuts. You only have to say the work 'short-cut' in our house for everyone to burst out laughing and start telling embarassing stories!

Jill Kemerer said...

You've never been lazy a minute in your life!

I love craft books. I always learn one more piece to the puzzle it seems.

Lynda Young said...

When I first decided I wanted to be a writer (way back in the dark ages)I didn't see a need to learn grammar or any other part of the craft. I saw no need to network. And edit? What is editing? ;) Glad I've grown up ;)

Janna Qualman said...

What a significant epiphany!

I can't think of any shortcuts, it's just that I try to speed through and that makes the whole path difficult to travel.

Sally said...

I know the feeling of "clicking" on something you are trying to get a grasp on, but my experience wasn't on writing, but I expect the "a ha" moment is much the same. It's a good feeling.

Karen Lange said...

I agree. The more I learn about writing the less I realize I know...:)

Keli Gwyn said...

I have so much to learn. I tend to be a wordy writer and have had issues with plot problems. I suppose that's why I spend so much time in Revision Land. I'm going to bury my nose in some craft books the next couple of weeks and learn from the pros. JSB, here I come.

Lydia K said...

Tons of practice writing is the only thing that works for me (with or without the writing books).

Great post!

Brock S. Henning said...

Terri, I just finished James Scott Bell's "Plot & Structure" (among others). I also attended his fiction writing classes at last year's Writing for the Soul conference in Denver. But mostly just reading books on the craft and reading lots more fiction in the genre I'd like to play in with my WIP.

Paul Greci said...

Studying writing craft books has really helped me, and studying well written novels, too.

Very cool that you've found a new tool!!

Kara said...

I've been reading these books recently too. I used to take writing classes, which were great. But reading craft books is easier because I don't have to leave the house:)

Sandra said...

Good for you though for going after your dream, and continuing on despite realizing the shortcuts may not be that short.
I'm blog hopping, and somehow I seem to have landed in a patch of novelists/writers and I'm sitting here in awe of you all.

Dawn Simon said...

Something cool about a good craft book is we can pick up different things when we read it later. I find the same thing with notes I take in writing classes or at conference sessions on craft. It's like my brain digests it one way, I keep writing and learning, then I'm able to get more from it another time. We're always growing--it's so cool.

I'm glad you're enjoying the book!

T. Anne said...

I think I'm right there with you. I'm going to make it a point to read more books on writing, even re-reading some of the ones I already have. Time to get serious. BTW, what book?

T. Anne said...

I think I'm right there with you. I'm going to make it a point to read more books on writing, even re-reading some of the ones I already have. Time to get serious.

Lily Robinson said...

I've read a few craft books. Most I think could be condensed to at least half their size. But the information in them is priceless. A lot of stuff may seem repetitious, but it may just merit repeating.

I served an apprenticeship, during which I received hands-on training by a several journeymen. Seeking the wisdom of the masters is always a smart idea.

Carol J. Garvin said...

I wrote my first novel (the one forever banished from sight) before I read a single how-to book. By the time I was finished wallowing my way through it I new I needed to research the mechanics of good writing. Since then I've acquired an entire bookshelf full of books on the craft, while writing three more novels. I attended some of Jessica Morrell's workshops and then bought a few of her books -- loved her approach! A conference introduced me to Donald Maass's 'Writing the Breakout Novel' and accompanying workbook, and they were terrific resources. Right now I'm devouring James Scott Bell's 'The Art of War for Writers', and learning even more.

I think we can spend too much time reading about writing, at the expense of actually putting the information into practice, but I don't believe good writing just happens by itself. It's a balance between learning and doing, getting work critiqued, and then learning and doing some more.

Carol J. Garvin said...

Oops... should have spell checked! "I *knew* I needed..."

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Terri -

I try to read craft books, but find they overwhelm me. I wish I could find one that gives smaller bites - almost like a craft devotional.

Blessings,
Susan :)

Kathryn Magendie said...

*smiling* ... I would never call you lazy!

WHen you have those "aha!" moments, it's the coolest feeling - the clouds part, the aha comes, and then there is the understanding. :-D

Susan Roux said...

It's so interesting how the journey of becoming a good writer and that of becoming a good artist parallel. Study the masters... There's no need to reinvent the wheel. Look to the past and you will find the answers you need to move forward. Blah Blah Blah. I could go on and on.

I really think you're on the right track for success. Go girl!