March 16, 2009

A Wealth of Resources

The best way, they say, to learn how to write is to put your butt in your chair and either put fingers to keyboard or pen to paper. Practice makes perfect ... or salable at least. So, I write.

Along with that come the writing conventions and workshops all over the world where a writer can network with his peers and potential agents and editors. I'm stuck in a very small town and can't get out to these shindigs, so I'm out of that loop.

There's the online community. In the absence of mobility on the road, I can at least sink my claws into places I come across on the Internet. So, I've got plenty of bookmarks, downloaded podcasts, and a plethora of blog I follow from month to month.

And then, there are books and magazines all over the place on how to write, what to write, how to sell what you've written, promote it, and study up on every other facet of the business. So, I have a small bookshelf with books and magazines, many of which I purchased through Writer's Digest, thank you very much.

The very first book on writing I ever purchased was a used copy I happened upon while browsing eBay's listings. It was Orson Scott Card's How To Write Science Fiction and Fantasy. Since the novel I was working on had a supernatural element to it, I figured the "Fantasy" section of this book might be worth looking at. So after winning the auction and mailing off a money order for ten bucks, I had myself an honest-to-god book on how to write. Watch out world, here I come.

It's a good read. I can't say I became a better horror writer by reading it, but I did become a better writer. For one thing, I learned about the types of stories to write (event driven or character driven), point of view (first person, third person, etc.), and world building. For a guy a long ways off from his English classes, I considered the straight talk of this book valuable. And, definitely a bargain for the asking price.

I have eight more books on writing, all of which I've read from cover to cover and picked up more and more appreciation for the craft of writing with each read. And, there are a few others I've since handed off to used book stores, which I read yet didn't feel were telling me something I hadn't already read or figured out myself through trial and error. I can't say reading books on writing alone will make you a better writer, but it can't hurt and it beats reading nothing at all.

The other books on my shelf right now: On Writing by Stephen King, The Complete Guide to Writing Fiction and Nonfiction by Pat Kubis and Bob Howland, Chicken Soup for the Writer's Soul by Jack Canfield, The Complete Handbook of Novel Writing by Meg Leder and Jack Heffron, No More Rejections by Alice Orr, On Writing Horror by Mort Castle, First Draft in Thirty Days by Karen Weisner, and Writing Fiction by August Derleth.

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