By Kelly Bridgewater
From February until November in 2016, I took a writing book and showed how the book has improved my writing. If you missed any of the actual post, click on the name of the book, and it will link you right back to that page.
James’ is a huge supporter of writing without an outline or a plan. Too many writers create a story with an outline, and they don’t allow the story to take them where it needs to go. They are controlled by the outline that they made before they started writing.
The first half of the book is an autobiography of Stephen King’s life or his CV as he fondly calls it. It includes how he started writing and showed the many times he wanted to even quit, but he kept at it. Secondly, the second half of the book talks about his writing advice.
As a budding writer, I have a hard time understanding how a scene goes together. Why internal dialogue? Why do you need to know the other character’s facial and body expressions to understand the story? When reading, I understand it completely. But as the writer, I have a hard time including that in my writing. I create the emotions from the main character’s perspective for each scene, but the Stimulus-Internalization-Response sequence confuses me. I have a really hard time with Deep POV too. I have read and studied Jill Elizabeth Nelson’s book on the subject. But once I sit down to include it in my writing, it doesn’t happen.
Swain also talks about a number of different areas that writers need help on. There is the “Beginning, Middle, and End”, “The People in Your Story”, and “Preparation, Planning, and Production.” Luckily, you don’t have to read Swain’s book straight from front to back. You can pick and choose what you want to read. If you don’t really want to sit down in a comfy chair and read for hours, you can pick up the book and read a chapter once a week or whatever makes you comfortable. It took me about a month to finish the book. Not that it wasn’t interesting, but I needed to read and digest what I had read to see how I could use it in my next book.
It is a great resource for any suspense writer who wants to make their stories ring true without having to actually go to an actual crime scene and figure out the answers to our questions. I don’t know about you, but approaching an EMT, firefighter, or police officer isn’t something I have done, but I really want people to believe what I have to write.
Plot and Structure uses tons of examples from many different contemporary pieces to draw the writer in. Bell will explain an idea to you like using Raw Emotion to start the novel, but then he will show you an example of raw emotion from The Quiet Game by Greg Iles. Even though I haven’t read the book or even heard of the author, it doesn’t stop me from understanding Bell’s example.
From the first page in the first paragraph, Stein grips my attention. He says, “This is not a book of theory. It is a book of usable solutions—how to fix writing that is flawed, how to improve writing that is good, how to create interesting writing in the first place” (3). His book does exactly that. It teaches how to make the basic writer better and keep teaching those who have been published or who have been reading book after book for a while on how to be a better writer. The book doesn’t discriminate. There is something for everyone.
Writing for the Soul is a quick read that you could sit down and read straight through for a couple of hours. It really doesn’t throw anything at you that would require you to do exercises upon exercises. It grips your attention and comforts you. At the end of each chapter, there is a Q and A section where Jenkins answers questions.
The Killgallons take simple grammatical words like appositives, gerunds, infinitive, and noun clauses and shows how to expand the sentences using these grammatical devices. She starts each section defining what each term means with at least three different examples from classic literature. Then the review section is usually pretty big. First, you will exchange sentences by switching up the infinitive or gerund with something closely grammatically related. Then you will practice expanding by adding an infinitive phrase or gerund phrase to the bold face section. There is matching. Multiple choices. More practice.
Warren helps you with everything from writing the synopsis to defining the Dark Moment in your character’s past. She explains it in an easy to understand format so that I think she is sitting right next to me offering me advice to, hopefully, someday give me a complete book that is ready for publication.