This book is not for everyone. If you want to be writer because you think it'll make you rich and famous; if you care more about being published thanThis book is not for everyone. If you want to be writer because you think it'll make you rich and famous; if you care more about being published than about actually being a good writer; if you think getting published is going to solve all your problems and make your life perfect; if you claim to have no insecurites about your writing and thus don't want to read about dealing with insecurities, this book is NOT for you. (Although if you really believe you have no insecurities, I congratulate you on the magnitude of your self-delusion.)
If, on the other hand, you love reading good writing, want to do good writing yourself, and could use a few tips for getting the work done and not giving in to despair along the way, this is the best possible book you can read. Don't wait any longer to get yourself a copy. ...more
This was an entertaining, quick read. Some of it was silly, but still fun. The most valuable parts are the reminders that it's never too late to startThis was an entertaining, quick read. Some of it was silly, but still fun. The most valuable parts are the reminders that it's never too late to start creating, and that a few minutes of creativity are better than nothing. This is worth rereading--I hope the person I lent it to gives it back!...more
Definitely not a perfect guide. For one thing, the format King wants us to follow is extremely rigid. In terms of the screenplay's plot and characterDefinitely not a perfect guide. For one thing, the format King wants us to follow is extremely rigid. In terms of the screenplay's plot and character development, she instructs us that certain things are supposed to happen by pages 10, 30, 45, 60, 90, 100, 120. You may feel like you're failing if your screenplay isn't following this model exactly. Of course, King herself admits that not every screenplay hits every turning point on exactly these pages (indeed, most don't), but given that the entire writing process in the book is based on them, it's a little difficult to see your way clear to doing it some other, less rigid way.
Second, this book seems to be for people who have never written before in their life and therefore have no idea what their creative process is. While those of us who are new to screenplay writing find a certain amount of structure useful, if we've already done some writing, we already know what our process is regarding certain things, like getting started on something new or revising a first draft. Trying to follow a process that's not ours might be confusing, frustrating even. A good example of this is index cards--King, like a lot of writing teachers, is a big fan of them. I have never been a fan of them, but I tried to use them here and guess what? It was far and away the least useful thing about the process. I may use this book again, but I've realized index cards will never be for me.
Also annoying: my edition of the book is dated 2001, but it seemingly hasn't been updated since the 1980s, with all its talk about postage stamps and typing/retyping. A new edition is long overdue.
Having said all that, I would still recommend this book. For one thing, all that structure is actually a good thing when you haven't ever written a screenplay before. It will get you started and keep you going. Just know that you'll have to figure out what isn't working for you and ignore it. For another thing, this book contains a surprising amount of good general advice on writing, the writing life, and life in general. It made me realize, for all the rigidity of her guidance, Viki King really does get it--she's genuinely creative, and she understands that we are too....more
While I was reading this, I was already anticipating giving the book five stars, with four stars based on the book's merits and one star based on theWhile I was reading this, I was already anticipating giving the book five stars, with four stars based on the book's merits and one star based on the fact that I'm kind of obsessed with Ann Patchett and want to be her friend. However, by the time I got to the title essay, I'd decided the book deserved five stars regardless of my slightly demented feelings toward its author. After all, I'd already read one of the book's long-form essays, "The Getaway Car," in electronic form and gave it five stars all on its own--it's one of the best texts on fiction writing out there, in my opinion. Just having that in a print form I can hold in my hand makes the whole book worthwhile. I cried a little while reading the title essay, a fact that will surprise anyone who knows about my decades-long skepticism about marriage (Ann shares those feelings, which makes her story of how her mind was changed more persuasive for me than I was expecting). I also cried a lot at "Dog Without End," a fact that will surprise no one who knows me and my own experiences with pets. Her essay about the controversy Truth & Beauty caused at Clemson University, and her convocation address at that school, are extremely valuable (not to mention interesting), and her piece on her bookstore, which I'd already read online several times and will probably never get tired of, is heartening for anyone who likes bookstores and actual physical books. Really, every essay in this collection is valuable--there are no weak links. I do wish she had included her cute article about her mother's publishing her first novel and immediately attaining the sort of commercial success that up until then (pre-Bel Canto) had eluded Ann--maybe the paperback version will have room for a few more essays? But that's just greed--the book is perfect as is. I feel like I'm a better person for having read it (too much?). Would make a fabulous holiday gift for the book lovers on your list, too--there's something here for everyone. What I'm trying to say is, I liked it....more
I loved this book. It was a new view of Sylvia Plath, for me anyway, and it was a good idea to couple the drawings with letters and journal entries foI loved this book. It was a new view of Sylvia Plath, for me anyway, and it was a good idea to couple the drawings with letters and journal entries for a sense of context and of Plath's creative process. And I absolutely loved the drawings themselves. It's my understanding that, after one exhibition at a privately owned gallery in the UK, Plath's daughter split up the collection and sold the drawings separately to the private collections of random people. This seems like an ill-considered decision. I hope, at least, someone will consider making prints of these works--there are a few I would love to be able to hang on my walls. Until then, I suspect I'll be returning to the art in this book again and again....more
I really enjoyed this. It's a brief bio of Leonard Cohen, a briefer bio of Jeff Buckley (R.I.P.), and, of course, a comprehensive bio for a song. TheI really enjoyed this. It's a brief bio of Leonard Cohen, a briefer bio of Jeff Buckley (R.I.P.), and, of course, a comprehensive bio for a song. The writing is inviting and entertaining, and the explication of the various versions of "Hallelujah" is interesting. But what I found most fascinating were the descriptions of the creative process: Cohen's when he wrote the song, and various other artists' when they were figuring out how to interpret it. Sure, there are times when an entire book about one song gets a bit repetitive, but on the whole I'd recommend this for most music lovers....more
This was fun. I've read The Believer on and off for years, but for some reason I usually haven't paid much attention to the interviews. That needs toThis was fun. I've read The Believer on and off for years, but for some reason I usually haven't paid much attention to the interviews. That needs to change....more
I don't expect to follow all the directives in here (you will never get me to use index cards! Never!), but in terms of both getting something on theI don't expect to follow all the directives in here (you will never get me to use index cards! Never!), but in terms of both getting something on the page and having a prayer of it actually being good, this is probably the most useful book on writing I've read so far....more
This was a really interesting novel, complex and often powerful. It weaves together a lot of themes--family, aging, war, death, creativity, sex, marriThis was a really interesting novel, complex and often powerful. It weaves together a lot of themes--family, aging, war, death, creativity, sex, marriage/infidelity. For a while I wasn't entirely sure the author would be able to tie all these threads together, but by the end I think she succeeded. I particularly enjoyed the insights into creativity--unusual for a novel of this type. Loved the setting. The characters were all very well-drawn and flawed. No one was 100 percent likeable--just like in real life! And that's how I prefer it. I realize this isn't much of a review, but this book felt so unique to me that I'm going to need to think on it for a while before I can say anything more intelligent about it. But I mean that in a good way! This is definitely worth the read.
One thing I feel compelled to add: On the back cover of my ARC, Karen Russell, apparently after smoking some peyote (do you smoke peyote or ingest it? I'm obviously kidding anyway, please don't censor me, Goodreads), claims that this novel is a "heart-stopping, jaw-dropping thriller." This would be a great accolade if it were even slightly accurate, but it isn't. This book is not a thriller in anyone's wildest dreams, and my advice to Random House would be not to use that quote on the final jacket. Anyone who reads this expecting a thriller is going to be disappointed, and this fine book deserves much better than that.
I received this galley via the Goodreads First Reads program....more
This wasn't bad, but I'm not sure how useful it will ultimately be. If your goal is to be truly creative, you can't just find a book on creativity andThis wasn't bad, but I'm not sure how useful it will ultimately be. If your goal is to be truly creative, you can't just find a book on creativity and follow it to the letter. The key is figuring out what works for you--separating the helpful advice from the not-so-helpful advice from the total B.S. And there is definitely some total B.S. in this short book....more
This was kind of odd. Some aspects of it were helpful, and I underlined a lot of passages I can see myself returning to. But a lot of this seemed likeThis was kind of odd. Some aspects of it were helpful, and I underlined a lot of passages I can see myself returning to. But a lot of this seemed like excerpts from stories or memoirs Bonnie Friedman started but never finished (or finished but never got published)--they mostly seemed out of place and the prose was overwrought. I just kept waiting for her to get back to the point, but if all those passages had gotten cut the book would've been about 30 pages long. I'm glad I read this, but at the same time I don't think I'd recommend it to anyone....more