I was a bit turned off by "Shitty First Drafts" as a chapter title -- a little show-offy, I thought. But the advice is great. I routinely remind myselI was a bit turned off by "Shitty First Drafts" as a chapter title -- a little show-offy, I thought. But the advice is great. I routinely remind myself of what she says in the first chapter about the only good reasons to write; e.g., to become a better reader....more
Fantastic Kindle Single addressing Patchett's experience with becoming and being a writer. Contains some of the most reassuring and straightforward wrFantastic Kindle Single addressing Patchett's experience with becoming and being a writer. Contains some of the most reassuring and straightforward writing advice I've read. Also loved her descriptions of the three writing teachers who influenced her the most ( I had no idea Allan Gurganis was one of her writing profs). I highlighted all the books and stories and authors she recommended and can't wait to read them!...more
Some of the more direct and honest adive for writers I've read, plus the pleasure of reading about Stephen King's childhood, made this a great experieSome of the more direct and honest adive for writers I've read, plus the pleasure of reading about Stephen King's childhood, made this a great experience. He narrates the excellent audiobook. I really enjoyed hearing about his life, from his comics manufacturing business as a child, to the Rock Bottom Remainders, his hilarious band with Amy Tan, Dave Barry and a rotating host of other writers, to his horrific accident. I'm not a big reader of King's novels, but this book gave me an appreciation for his love of the horror genre and his abilities. I like that he is such a storyteller he can't just write a straight advice book; the advice is all wound into the story of his own experience. I expect that's more useful anyhow!
A few things I loved:
* "If you don't have time to read, you don't have time to write." In other words, get real! If you want to write, you have to put in the time. DO IT.
* "Write with the door closed; rewrite with the door open," i.e., first drafts are for getting it out of your system and onto paper. Revisions are where you need to axe your preciousness and force your work to appeal to an external audience. Every word.
* An example of a short profile he wrote for his first writing job for his school newspaper, and how his editor changed it. This is vital information!
* You can make an adequate writer into a good writer, but a bad writer will not become a good writer, and a good writer will not become a great writer. Those are born, not made. (I found this a relief.)
Things I took minor issue with:
* King doesn't understand why a professional writer would only have a few books published over their lifetime. (If they are really writers, they should be constantly prolific and published!) I'm not convinced. Not every writer has the output of King, Oates, Rendell. I don't think anyone would argue that Marilyn Robinson isn't a very fine writer, and she has published only a handful of novels.
* He says adverbs, and words that replace "said" are almost always terrible. I disagree. I've had too many arguments with my husband over misunderstandings of tone when communicating via text or chat to believe that a writer can always be able to convey tone without these modifiers. I don't ALWAYS know if a character is joking, or sarcastic, or lying, if I'm not told; and, unless it is meant to be ambiguous, I thin it's fair for the writer to convey how they want dialogue and its speakers to be interpreted. I agree they should probably be used sparingly, except in humor writing, where they are required.