I gobbled it up in almost one sitting (it's not very long)... I just love Lewis's voice. Loved all the insights into Narnia and a couple of them surprI gobbled it up in almost one sitting (it's not very long)... I just love Lewis's voice. Loved all the insights into Narnia and a couple of them surprised me (Lewis's opinion of Susan! I guess I haven't read the Last Battle in a while).
Some favorite quotes:
I don't think age matters so much as people think. Parts of me are still 12 and I think other parts wre already 50 when I was 12. (regarding Pevensie children growing up in Narnia).
What matters in books is not so much the ideas as how you actually carry them out.
I've been reading Pride and Prejudice on and off all my life and it doesn't wear out a bit. Lamb, too. [Note to self: get some essays of Charles Lamb]
An entirely new LOL perspective on Lewis: I've been having a sebacious (no, not herbacious) cyst lanced on the back of my neck: the most serious results is that I can never at present get my whole head & shoulders under water in my bath (Ilike getting down like a hippo with only my nostrils out). Give my love to all...
An interesting thought: All schools, both here and in America, ought to teach far fewer subjects and teach them far better.
A strict allegory is like a puzzle with a solution.
A great romance is like a flower whose smell reminds you of something you can't quite place. I think the something is "the whole quality of life as we actually experience it."
You can have a realistic story in which all the things and people are exactly like those we meet in real life, but the quality, the feel or texture or smell, of it is not. In a great romance it is just the opposite. I've never met Orcs or Ents of Elves - but the feel of it, the sense of a huge past, of lowering danger, of heroic tasks achieved by the most apparently unheroic people, of distance, vastness, strangeness, homeliness (all blended together) is so exactly what living feels like to me. Particularly the heart-breaking quality in the most beautiful places, like Lothlorien. And it is so like the real history of the world: "Then as now, there was a growing darkness and great deeds were done that were not wholly in vain."
Neither optimism (This is the last war and after it all will be lovely forever) nor pessimism (this is the last war and all civilization will end), you notice. No. The darkness comes again and again and is never wholly triumphant nor wholly defeated.
And here is some insight that I hadn't fully gleaned from my reading of Till We Have Faces: Lewis describes three different aspects of how we resist Divine Love in three different characters/beings in the book: Ungit, the Fox, and Orual, especially in her jealosy of her sister's relationship with a god she cannot see. ...more
When I saw this "illustrated guide to creative imaginative fiction" at my library, I swooped it up. It has more of magazine feel to it than an actualWhen I saw this "illustrated guide to creative imaginative fiction" at my library, I swooped it up. It has more of magazine feel to it than an actual book, maybe because of all the bizarre art and cartoonish creatures which chop up the pages, so I skimmed through it like I would a magazine, looking for articles that appealed to me.
What I enjoyed most about it were the articles by other writers that Jeff Vandermeer included, especially the ones by Ursula K. Le Guin (but you can find the same article, on "A message on messages" on her website) and by Lev Grossman on revision.
Vandermeer's own writing, on writing, was either a little too complicated (felt it belonged in a university research publication on writing) or a little too "out there" - like his "ecosystem of the story" but it was nevertheless very solid advice. ...more
Absolutely convinced this is helpful to novel writers as well as screen writers. And bonus - it's fun!
I loved the wisdom of the first chapter - cominAbsolutely convinced this is helpful to novel writers as well as screen writers. And bonus - it's fun!
I loved the wisdom of the first chapter - coming up with a logline FIRST. Before anything else.
The 15 beats you need for structure were also helpful, and the story board, and the chapter with all the creatively-named tips - from "Pope in Pool" (please read that correctly: I first read it as Poop in the Pool!) to Mumbo Jumbo. ...more
After you've read the writing books that point out all the errors you made when you were starting out, and then you've read the writing books that makAfter you've read the writing books that point out all the errors you made when you were starting out, and then you've read the writing books that make you feel like you'll never "get there" with your writing, this book is a refreshing boost to your confidence.
"If you’ve read rabidly all your life, believe it or not, you know as much as just about anybody in the writing game. You may not be able to articulate it as well as some professors, but you don’t have to. All you have to do is follow your gut."
So that quote runs the danger of making it sound like great writing is really easy, but that's where all the great exercises in this book will set you straight. Some of the exercises are short and fun (e.g. easy), but most take quite a bit of thought, imagination, and research. Yes - research! Okay, I admit, I've only done a few so far, and they took me a lot longer than I thought they would, but the result was well worth it.
Here's an example of one of the exercises: "A great way to warm-up your voice is to pick the character and tone you want and write a letter to your best friend using it, no longer than a page. Or pick four words that you associate with the scene and free-associate three more words for each of these (word clustering)."
The book is well organized and breaks down voice into some of its components: tone, rhythm, and imagery. In addition to the exercises, it includes discussion of good voice-building techniques. For instance, some of the techniques discussed come from actors, and are adapted for writers:
"Successful actors make marvelous use of their own individualities in creating the roles they play on the screen. You can use the same technique to create the roles you play on the page."
The book ends with some quotes/excerpts from authors, agents and editors discussing why voice is so critical. Here's a couple short quotes:
"Your goal should be to communicate with the reader the same way they would when telling a story to a good friend."
"For fiction to work, the reader needs to feel the presence of a live and sweating human being behind each sentence, a governing sensibility, a certain way of inhabiting the world."
The author uses his own distinctive voice throughout the book, for as he points out several times, voice is important in non-fiction as well as fiction. For a truly great example of non-fiction voice, combined with excellent writing advice, I also recommend "Bird by Bird" by Anne Lamott. ...more
My favorite writing book is Bird by Bird, by Anne Lamott, but now Birdy will have to share the #1 spot. Bird by Bird and the Fire in Fiction are bothMy favorite writing book is Bird by Bird, by Anne Lamott, but now Birdy will have to share the #1 spot. Bird by Bird and the Fire in Fiction are both about writing but cover completely different things. Bird is about the writing life, getting your first draft down, how to keep your butt in the chair, why you should aways keep paper and pen in your back pocket.
Fire is about specifics. You've got your first draft done. Even your second or third draft. But it's still not getting interest. The Fire in Fiction skips the basics, such as hook and point of view. It goes much deeper. It teaches you how to keep your readers reading after the hook.
Want to make your protagonist more memorable? Even harder, want to make your secondary characters more memorable? "Special-ness comes not from a character but from their impact on the protagonist. What are the details that measure their impact? How specific can you make them?"
The books that cover the basics teach you that your book is built on scenes and all scenes worth their weight need conflict and must move the plot forward. This book digs deeper and talks about inner and outer turning points in each scene. Maass uses the analogy about how action scenes in movies are planned and shot in detailed frames. He shows you how to rewind and fast-forward through the scenes and how to use oblique angles to heighten effect (and we are talking writing here, not just camera work).
Oh and don't forget the tornado effect - that's a powerful device. Sorry you'll have to read the book to find out what it is.
The book provides excellent exercises, broken down step-by-step, for how to accomplish things like:
- stripping down dialogue to heighten conflict. - Make setting become its own character. - How to link details and emotions. - Develop a character's voice. Experiment with narrative voice. - The extra steps you can take (you MUST take) to make a real antagonist. - Three different techniques to help your reader suspend disbelief (if you are writing fantasy, SF or thrillers). - There's even a chapter on developing humor and satire
What you won't find: plot structure - the excellent three act structure or hero's journey structure. Save the Cat by Blake Snyder is next on my list for that. (I also recommend the Writer's Journey for this).
Here's an example of a step in an exercise that I just picked at random:
"Create three hints in this scene that your protaonist or point-of-view character will get what he wants. Build three reasons to believe that he won't get what he wants."
The last two chapters are the very best of all. What's the secret to unstoppable page turning? It's NOT action. What? No really. It's micro-tension. Don't know what that is exactly? Maybe you can guess what it is, and are curious about how to implement it? This is a MUST READ.
And the last chapter, simply titled "The fire in fiction". All the chapters give you fuel for a good hot fire, but this last chapter is the fire itself. This one blew me away. I'd love to tell you, but then I'd have to kill you.
No seriously, get this book (after you feel like you've mastered the basics). Buy it, because you'll want to keep it on your desk for constant reference. Make a rule that no other book ever gets placed on top of it. I really think it's that good. ...more