Tuesday, April 01, 2008

April Fool's and Two Sentence Tuesday

Happy April Fool's Day, and sorry for the recent lag on the blog. I'm in high gear with my rewrites and only have 120 pages left to go on this round for my WIP. I did find a scary thing today--that the draft in my computer for a particular chapter was a step behind a copy of my hard edits. I'm hoping it's an anomaly, that I took this chapter out of sequence for my critique group, polished it, and forgot to put it back in. Which would be way me of me. The idea that I've saved a lesser draft over a more polished one--for the whole book--is more horrifying than I can entertain. And it's not an April Fool's either.

On to Two by Two, since I missed them last week (where I share two sentences read, two sentence written, and y'all are invited to join me.) Today, according to The Writer's Almanac, is the birthday of Francine Prose, born in Brooklyn, New York in1947. Along with writing novels, she's authored the nonfiction book, Reading Like a Writer (2006), which is subtitled "A Guide for People Who Love Books and for Those Who Want to Write Them." It's one of my new favorite books on writing, and here's a sample two sentences from a terrific chapter on gestures:

"First of all, it's important, as with every word we write, to be careful and sparing. If a gesture is not illuminating, simply leave it out, or try cutting it and see if you later miss it or even remember it's gone."

For my two written, from my WIP: "He missed the actual accident, but heard the kid scream, a high animal sound. Sagging between two men as they drug him off the lift, his face turned purple from crying."

Other Two Sentence Tuesday Posters:

Women of Mystery (who started the trend)


Question: are how-to writing books worth a writer's time? Do you have a favorite?

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8 Comments:

Blogger Clare2e said...

Thanks for joining the two-sentence fun, Britta. I've had that gut-drop feeling over saving an old draft over the "good" one. Hope it's not justified this time. My face would go purple from crying then, for sure.

Is all of Francine Prose's advice so kind? It seems very friendly to me on first reading.

10:00 AM  
Blogger Britta Coleman said...

Thanks, Clare2e. So far the loss is just the one chapter that I've found, so no animal screams for today. But there's always tomorrow.

I think Prose's advice is better than kind--it's honest. She writes as someone who loves reading and isn't snobbish about helping other writers pursue their craft. Which seems pretty friendly to me, too.

10:23 AM  
Blogger Travis Erwin said...

I didn't get a two for Tuesday up today but I like yours. Is this still the book about Golf or are you working on something else?

12:16 PM  
Blogger Kern said...

My favorite book on writing is On Writing by Stephen King. It is a must for any King fan, even if you're not a writer. His insight into the art is fascinating. My favorite memory from that book, and it's been several years ago, was his story about drug abuse, and having no recollection of writing Cujo.

7:51 AM  
Blogger Mathilda said...

On Writing is good.

The best, though, is Bird by Bird (Anne Lamott).

Written (notes to myself about my thesis): Clunky transitions. But, I kind of want that, meaning I want the struggle to be apparent in my tone/voice. Appropriate balance of uncomfortableness, growth, and truth?

Read: "I have one green eye and one brown eye. The green eye sees truth, but the brown eye sees much, much more" (Gail Carson Levine, Writing Magic--a book I am analyzing for my children's literature course).

8:55 AM  
Blogger Britta Coleman said...

Travis, I'm not telling...(!) Gotta keep mum so the mojo will flow.

Kern and Mathilda, I love On Writing, too. It's usually my number one recommendation. Bird by Bird is another great pick, as is Natalie Goldberg's Writing Down the Bones.

6:30 AM  
Blogger Billy said...

I'm not a big fan at all of how-to books on writing (although if Garrison Keillor recommends it, I'd read it). The exception is ZEN IN THE ART OF WRITING by Ray Bradbury, who dwells not on specifics like plot arcs and such, but on releasing creativity and not getting hung up on formulas.

Otherwise, I think the best advice by most notable authors is solid: read a lot and write a lot. How-to ends up being lessons in connecting dots. One has to learn how to "channel the force," not tame it -:)

6:23 AM  
Blogger Britta Coleman said...

I completely agree that the primary tool for great writing is great reading. I'll have to check out the Bradbury book. Thanks for the rec, Billy.

9:17 AM  

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