Overall, I loved this book on writing craft, which explores not just characters but also the way your character development intersects with plot, genr...moreOverall, I loved this book on writing craft, which explores not just characters but also the way your character development intersects with plot, genre, and other factors that must be considered when writing.
My favorite sections were Part 1 (Inventing Characters) and Part 2 (Constructing Characters). It included great discussions of character's motive, habits, past, and networks. I liked the discussion of how characters' motives and attitudes translate into dialogue and action, what works and what goes overboard. Reading his examples, I can think of dozens more from my favorite books. I also enjoyed the sections on walk-on characters, minor characters, and major characters, and how each must be handled differently.
Part 3 on Viewpoint was well-written and worth reading, but less comprehensive, and to me less useful. Card completely dismisses first person present as a viewpoint that isn't even used in mainstream fiction, yet the past five years have seen a plethora of books using this viewpoint, especially in young adult fiction. While I have found some of these books jarring, I can think of dozens where it worked really well, and a discussion of the techniques would be helpful.
I plan to buy this book to add it to my personal library--it's definitely one I want to come back to.(less)
I first discovered Rilke earlier this month when one of my friends posted a snippet of his poetry for National Poetry Month. The lines entranced me, a...moreI first discovered Rilke earlier this month when one of my friends posted a snippet of his poetry for National Poetry Month. The lines entranced me, and I decided I wanted to read more. So I found this selection of his poetry and read it from start to finish.
I loved the critical introduction by Robert Haas--it was a fascinating look at Rilke's life and poems, and helped me get a lot more out of my reading, by understanding the context.
My impression of Rilke is that his poems describe the beauty of loneliness, the meaning in emptiness, and the self-discovery in loss. In one of his requiems, Rilke writes:
I have my dead, and I have let them go, and was amazed to see them so contented, so soon at home in being dead, so cheerful, so unlike their reputation. Only you return....
The brilliantly crafted ten elegies that make up Duino Elegies were incredibly sorrowful, bringing death close, but in some ways transcending death itself. In one of his sonnets to Orpheus, Rilke writes:
Be ahead of all parting, as though it already were behind you, like the winter that has just gone by.
One of my favorite poems is Rilke's first sonnet to Orpheus:
A tree ascended there. Oh pure transcendence! Oh Orpheus sings! Oh tall tree in the ear! And all things hushed. Yet even in that silence a new beginning, beckoning, change appeared.
Creatures of stillness crowded from the bright unbound forest, out of their lairs and nests; and it was not from any dullness, not from fear, that they were so quiet in themselves,
but from simply listening. Bellow, roar, shriek seemed small inside their hearts. And where there had been just a makeshift hut to receive the music,
a shelter nailed up out of their darkest longing, with an entryway that shuddered in the wind-- you built a temple deep inside their hearing.
Reading Rilke makes me want to look, to see, to experience the world more deeply. It makes me want to stop running from my sorrows, and instead let myself experience them.
Since I've never read Rilke before, I can't comment on this particular translation or edition in comparison to the others. This one does have the original German on the opposite page, for those who happen to read German (I do not).
I need more poetry in my life. Reading Rilke has made that clear to me.(less)
A refreshing take on writing, while this book was written particularly for screenplays, a lot applies to fiction writing in general.
One of the most us...moreA refreshing take on writing, while this book was written particularly for screenplays, a lot applies to fiction writing in general.
One of the most useful chapters is the first, which gives advice on crafting your logline or pitch. A lot of writers struggle with this, and I'd definitely recommend reading this chapter for anyone writing query letters.
I also really liked the chapter on story organization. He writes his rules as very fast and hard (this must happen on page 5), but I think that when applied with a little more freedom, you can map most good movies onto his structure. This is elaborated on in his following chapter, in which Snyder gives really useful techniques on pre-outlining a story. Unless your writing a very short novel, you're going to have a lot more scenes and more twists than Snyder describes, but the major plot points and turns are going to be the same.
I also enjoyed the genre chapter, in which Snyder discusses what I would call story archetypes rather than genres. I think the traditional view on genres is still useful -- if you're writing a western you really need both the syntax and semantics of Westerns (the normal plot structure as well as devices and props, from the prostitute with the heart of gold to the cowboy hat). But looking at story archetypes, regardless of what genre you're using, is a good way to discover what sorts of things need to happen in your story to aid the protagonists journey.
Warning: If you want to write a tragedy or a sad story, Snyder won't be of much help to you. Some of his recommendations were a little bizarre, or seemingly inapplicable to novel-writing. However, there were little gems and insights I found throughout, ways Snyder expressed things that made me consider writing craft anew (which is why I read craft books occasionally). One of my favorite insights was when he explained how every character, even the minor ones, needs to have a character arc--the story needs to be significant to the point where it changes the entire story world. The only characters who don't arc are the bad guys, which is why they have to be eliminated. (less)
Note to self: I flipped through this book and I now really want to read it. It looks at different standard story arc and then has 55 different dramati...moreNote to self: I flipped through this book and I now really want to read it. It looks at different standard story arc and then has 55 different dramatic situations. Perhaps I'll have time to check this out and read it in a few months.(less)
This book has no words, just black shapes on a white background. Yet it is perfect for a 0-4 month old. As baby's eyes begin to develop they really li...moreThis book has no words, just black shapes on a white background. Yet it is perfect for a 0-4 month old. As baby's eyes begin to develop they really like contrast and bold colors, or black and white. This is one of the only books where my baby will actually let her eyes focus on the images; it's also fun to talk about the pictures with her.(less)