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What are your fav. resources on craft? Ready...go!

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a_wooden_lock View Drop Down
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    Posted: 20 Jul 2021 at 2:15pm
Often the easy answer for this is: reading more stories. And I couldn't agree more. But as someone who is trying to find my voice and agency in writing, I've been exploring what those who are good at writing and talk about it have to say on the subject. 
Since Le Guin is one of my favorite authors, I've been engaged in her The Wave in the Mind and have not been let down. 
I have also been perusing Margot Livesey's The Hidden Machinery and it has been informative as well. 

So what sources have influenced your writing? 
What has guided your journey to becoming the writer you are or the one you aspire to be?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (2) Thanks(2)   Quote jayscottink Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20 Jul 2021 at 6:26pm
Oooh, if you like Le Guin's stuff on writing, she has another book you might want to check out too: Steering the Craft. It's got some amazing stuff. You can get ahold of used copy pretty cheap. (Not gonna lie, Wave in the Mind is the book that's currently...on the back of my toilet, if you know what I mean ^.^)

The most helpful book for me so far has been McKee's Story. It's aimed at screenwriters, but so much of what's in that book is applicable to all sorts of creative writing, and there's so much specific, *actionable* ideas/structures in there (vs more general "this is how to approach things" advice that a lot of craft books/discussions have).

I've found as time has gone on that there's a certain saturation point after which reading/listening to people talk about craft doesn't add many new ideas that you haven't encountered before, but context is everything: even listening to/reading "same-old-same-old" discussions of plot/character/whatever while a different story is at the forefront triggers so many ideas, new approaches to the story, pulls old ideas out of the back of my brain...it's sort of the same reason I love NYCM to much. Perspective. New directions. Someone else's thoughts and ideas mixing with mine and making them better. I've thought about all of these things before, but maybe not for *this* project, you know? It's so incredibly helpful to be constantly exposing yourself to dissections of writing, rather than going on instinct/falling into the same patterns--it's how you learn and grow, imo, trying other people's methods, processes, seeing what works and what doesn't, really immersing yourself in the whole thing :D


Edited by jayscottink - 20 Jul 2021 at 6:28pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote LadyArkham Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20 Jul 2021 at 8:31pm
"Telling Lies for Fun and Profit" by Lawrence Block is way outdated, but was one of my first and formative resources on writing fiction. 

I'm definitely going to check out more of these!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (2) Thanks(2)   Quote GenieAZ Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21 Jul 2021 at 12:12am
“If you are to become a writer you’ll have to stop fooling with words,” she explained. “It would be better to give up the notion of writing until you are better prepared. Now it’s time to be living. I don’t want to frighten you, but I would like to make you understand the import of what you think of attempting. You must not become a mere peddler of words. The thing to learn is to know what people are thinking about, not what they say.” — Sherwood Anderson, “Winesburg, Ohio”

I am a big fan of “The Emotional Craft of Fiction” by Donald Maass.  It teaches the importance of the story behind the words...how to move people with your writing.  I aspire to that!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote Nimhathuna Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21 Jul 2021 at 9:12am

Funnily enough, I don’t read any resource material on how to write or formulas etc. Perhaps that’s because I think we all bring something new to the literary table. So instead, I just write and see what I come up with. For NYCM, the same applies. My reading, however, is eclectic.

A significant influence that colours my writing was and still is my life. You'd need a powerful imagination even to conjure up a portion of it. The only guide is me.

Erah, if we were all the same, how tedious the world would be.


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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (2) Thanks(2)   Quote TracyNicole Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21 Jul 2021 at 10:00am
This post is incredibly helpful for me. Thank you! I am a lifelong writer that is just beginning to explore how to refine my craft while gaining courage and confidence to share my work with others. I found Stephen King's On Writing to be not only an enjoyable read, but also offered very useful information. 

Thank you again for this post!  
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote Suave Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21 Jul 2021 at 12:49pm
I started reading books at a very young age. The first were not
literary master pieces, but I read one after another, anything
I could find. Always knew I wanted to write. What really helped form
my thoughts was a novel by Zane Gray "Wilderness Trek: A Novel of Australia." 
I was young when I read it the first time. Though I have not been overly productive, 
that book cemented my resolve and most likely molded some of my thinking.
Don't know if that is what you are looking for, but that did it for me.


Edited by Suave - 21 Jul 2021 at 1:10pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote nod1v1ng Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21 Jul 2021 at 5:01pm
Originally posted by Nimhathuna Nimhathuna wrote:

Funnily enough, I don’t read any resource material on how to write or formulas etc. 


Yeah, as a rule, I don't either. 

I learned grammar from my mother, who was an English teacher, and whatever was taught in high school. But I learned to write by writing. And writing more. And reading--I've always been a huge reader, but now when I read I have one eye on the storytelling as well. Oh, and don't forget more writing. It's a skill, and so in order to improve you must practice! 

That aside, when I started thinking about trying my hand at longform, I did read Lisa Cron's "Story Genius" and Chris Baty's "No Plot? No Problem!" The former I enjoyed, although I'm not sure it really taught me that much that I didn't already instinctively know, but I think it's a good read. The latter, I did not like at all. But they are two very different approaches to novel writing, so it is probably a preference kind of thing...
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote GaleGirl Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 8 hours 56 minutes ago at 8:03am
Originally posted by a_wooden_lock a_wooden_lock wrote:

So what sources have influenced your writing? 
What has guided your journey to becoming the writer you are or the one you aspire to be?

I began writing before I formally studied writing in a master's creative writing program. I was exposed to several great craft books in that program: Tell It Slant by Brenda Miller and Suzanne Paola and Imaginative Writing: The Elements of Craft by Janet Burroway, which really helped me elevate my use of writing craft.

I learned so much from those books, and I keep reading them and using them some 10 years later. 

One thing I learned from the faculty members in my writing program is that most them read voraciously. I mean voraciously, which can only make you a better writer. Once a student of writing, one can never go back to reading as a non-writer. So, I have been ruined in that way. Some days, I wish I could just return to those days. That's why I adore books that help me forget to scrutinize and examine the writing all the time. All the Light We Cannot See was one such book for me. 


Edited by GaleGirl - 8 hours 54 minutes ago at 8:05am
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote sootfoot5 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 4 hours 53 minutes ago at 12:06pm
When I first started writing I wrote screenplays and bought a lot of crappy books.  The Syd Fields book was good if you wanted to write by a formula. But then I purchased Robert McKee's book, "STORY."  I recommend that book not merely to those who write screenplays, but to fiction writers as well.  It is awesome.  AWESOME. It is also on audible. (which is great for me as I'm having vision issues and need either really big print or audible)

The other thing I've relied upon as a writer is my eyes and ears. People watch at all times. You should keep your eyes and ears open-let it all sink in!  Sometimes it is the littlest kind of action that you can use in a story to show character. 

I'm not posting this time
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