Saturday, September 01, 2007

More Lies

And now a few words from Charles.

I don’t read a lot of How to Write books for the same reason I don’t read a lot of How to Talk books.

I’ve been lucky that both come rather easily to me. I’ve never been at a loss for words, a fact that anyone who knows me will confirm. Now I’m not saying that the words are any good, they just come to me easily. If I did read some of these books I might get better, but they just don’t pull me in.

There have been exceptions. The first was Stephen King’s On Writing, which, ironically, I listened to as I drove to work every day a few years back. The bio part was interesting but the stuff about assembling your writer’s toolbox was invaluable. Every writer should start here.

So that’s one.

Another is Maps of the Imagination: The Writer as Cartographer by Peter Turchi. I’ve written about this book before and I have incorporated many of his ideas into my writing strategy. I think I enjoyed it so much because of my background as a geography teacher. The map metaphor made a lot of sense to me – it might not for you, but I’d suggest you check it out.

That’s two.

The third is a gem I picked up last week. The Lie That Tells the Truth by John Dufresne seems to be aimed at folks who have always wanted to write but who haven’t gotten around to it. It’s filled with straight talk about procrastination and, while he keeps a light and witty tone, he’s firm – if you’re not writing, for any reason, then you don’t want to write badly enough. But he’s also filled the book with wonderful insights and unique ways of looking at what we do. Check out this passage from page 34:

“In order for a message to travel from one neuron to another (one scene to another), there needs to be a gap between them. Like the gap in a spark plug. No gap, no fire, no ignition, no motion. This is how I think when I am writing fiction. I don’t want any chapters, paragraphs, sentences, words, to follow logically from the last. I want that leap, that surprise, that divergent thought.”


The whole book (so far) is like this. Very inspirational. Very motivating. Very what-the-hell-am-I-doing-writing-this-blog-when-I-have-500-words-to-go-in-my-manuscript.


Back to work.


Kathryn Lilley said...

I have another one for you: Don't Murder Your Mystery by Chris Roerden. Everyone in my writing group, even the people who don't write mysteries, has bought the book. It's filled with specific techniques for managing all the pesky challenges that arise in fiction writing.

Charles Benoit said...

Thanks - I'll pick it up.

Neil Plakcy said...

John Dufresne's book is great-- glad to see you mention it.

Josephine Damian said...

I thought I was the only one who read that Peter Turchi book! I'm reading "Bringing the Devil to His Knees" by Turchi and Charles Baxter.

I'll be picking up the other books you recommended. Thanks!

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