This is a really valuable reference and research for students and researches, particularly history and any related fields that use Chicago Manual of SThis is a really valuable reference and research for students and researches, particularly history and any related fields that use Chicago Manual of Style for research and citations. I will definitely be keeping the book and will refer back to it for future research projects....more
The good advice in this book needed to be translated from academic to english and the sum of it would havePoorly written book on how to write better.
The good advice in this book needed to be translated from academic to english and the sum of it would have comfortably fit into a pamphlet. It was full of snobby, elitist statements about literature that come out of the mouth of english professors who know an awful lot about reading and criticizing and very little about being a writer. Or at least anything other than their kind of writer.
The good advice he did offer I have read elsewhere, better explained.
A short book that basically illuminates the process of Ron Carlson writing a short story called the Governor's Ball.
This book helped me understand whaA short book that basically illuminates the process of Ron Carlson writing a short story called the Governor's Ball.
This book helped me understand what he thinks as he writes, which was very informative in comparing it to my own process. For Ron Carlson writing is basically a non-stop war against the temptation to stop writing. He is a discovery writer (which means he writes without an outline or knowing where the story will go beforehand). With each sentence he basically uses a lot of concrete nouns, descriptions etc. and takes what he just wrote as a building block toward the next sentence and paragraph. Everyone is writing blind to a certain extent on the first draft, but for myself it isn't quite this blind (most the time).
Carlson makes several generalizations about genre fiction (he is a literary writer) that I disagree with, naming calling such works plot-driven with false characters that don't really have depth and a personal agenda. I could see the stereotypes that he was drawing from, but I have read too much excellent genre fiction to buy into the generalizations he makes.
It was comforting to read this book and realize that even a more experienced writer than myself feels a lot of the confusion, self-doubt, temptation to give up for the day etc. that often distracts me from the story and the work.
Interestingly, as he basically walks you through his thinking-as-he-writes process I disagreed with some of the writing decisions he made, but at the end when reading the complete story as a whole it came out better then the sum of those parts then when I read the snippets throughout the book (he tells you what he is thinking as he writes sentences and paragraphs in the story).
One advantage of discovery writing this way that is reflected in a way that outline/architect writers have more difficulty conveying is the spontaneity of the human experience. The narrator of the story is taking a mattress to the dump and ends up having a kind of cool moment with these homeless people at the end of the story. Carlson was essentially feeling his way around in the dark and stumbled into a cool moment, where as for me as more of an architect/outlining writer I have an idea or imagine a moment that strikes me as interesting or could be emotionally compelling or cool in some say and then start wondering what would bring a person there and what kind of person would experience this in a really powerful or interesting way. At least that's how my current story is going.
The difference is in retrospect your life (or the character's) seems to be leading to these things but as you live them you are just sort of stumbling about doing the best you can. That's how I see it anyway. Well, its time to finish the review, get off the internet, and work on my novel. Carlson certainly had that part right....more
This short book is pretty good, and the advice in it is critical for new writers. The reason I didn't rate it higher is because when I read it I feltThis short book is pretty good, and the advice in it is critical for new writers. The reason I didn't rate it higher is because when I read it I felt like there was nothing here that I didn't already get in Stephen King's On Writing or in The Elements of Style....more
This book is very useful because in addition to defining and giving useful information about the various possible viewpoints, it serves as a sort of gThis book is very useful because in addition to defining and giving useful information about the various possible viewpoints, it serves as a sort of guide or reference to finding out which is best for your book.
I would take notes while reading or buy it so you can return when you have specific questions. When I was reading it I remember thinking over and over "I want to remember this part if I ever run into X problem..."
Right off the bat Mr. Stegner makes a distinction between what he calls "serious fiction" vs "escapist fiction." I'm honestly tired of the constant biRight off the bat Mr. Stegner makes a distinction between what he calls "serious fiction" vs "escapist fiction." I'm honestly tired of the constant bickering between the literature professor type readers and writers who have to bring their ego to everything they read. My opinion is and shall remain that if YOU like the book, then the book is good for YOU. No one else's opinion matters. (Possible exceptions to this standard being books that promote morally shady things such as glorifying violence against women or something).
Anyway, I read a collection of Wallace Stegner short stories for my Western American Literature class and I am currently reading Beyond the Hundredth Meridian. I enjoyed his short stories and I have a particular interest in his works and career because he took a very similar career path to and seems to share many common interests with me. I decided to read this book because I read a lot of books about people who have things to say about writing, and like Stephen King's On Writing this book got bumped pretty high up the list since his writing actually proves what he knows what he is talking about. Despite our clearly different definitions of quality in fiction, I did find a few of his insights valuable.
1) He talks a lot about the distinct boundary between the creator and the audience when writing fiction. I think the onset of social media has weakened that boundary, but the points that Stegner makes about how this can affect our writing were interesting and valuable.
2)His various opinions on how creative writing can/should be taught made a lot of sense to me. I took a creative writing class a couple semesters ago and the class was run a lot like Mr. Stegner suggests in this book and I found it was a positive environment for me to improve my writing. Some of Mr. Stegner's suggestions could have made it even better.
There were others, but those are the two that stand out the most to me. As much as I respect the craft and quality of Mr. Stegner's fiction, it seems to me that we write for very different reasons, and that that will largely invalidate some of his opinions about the mental/emotional/psychological needs relating to writing etc.
A decent book, gives a number of quality writing tips, especially near the end of the book. Just very little I haven't heard before and it took a lot of words to get to the nuggets I found valuable.