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grechzoo
December 6th, 2006, 01:52 PM
Basically i have thought of a good story idea which i have built on in the last few months, and m really enthused by it.

its fiction. maybe a bit science fiction.

while my typing on this site is usually poor, its just laziness and i think i can write well but its the things like structure and story pacing/developement that worries me.

So if you could recommend me book that guide me through these obstacles i would be extremely grateful.

i understand theres no quick fix but im sure if you give me a good selections of books to research, it will help me overall.

JBI
December 6th, 2006, 04:07 PM
Try Orson scott Card's book. Can't remember the name, but you could probably find it on the literary source list.

choppy
December 6th, 2006, 07:17 PM
Card's book is "How to Write Science Fiction and Fantasy." It has some good stuff in it, but also a lot of fluff. And after barely getting through his novel "the Lost Boys" I'm glad that he didn't also include horror in the title.

King's book "On Writing" is inspirational, but doesn't talk too much about the writing process.

I've enjoyed the Writer's Digest series, which I would recommend.

Ultimately, though, what really helps is just reading a lot in your chosen genre. Read what you like to write - see what works and what doesn't.

grechzoo
December 7th, 2006, 06:32 AM
Thanks choppy.

I agree with your last point.

but as I said in the first post i'm sure a book that teaches me about pacing and structure will also help as much at this stage.

Liathano
December 7th, 2006, 08:45 AM
I have the exact same problem and I was given "Elements of Style by Strunk & White". It is a great book. Another one for strcture is "How to write fast while writing well by David Fryxell". I hope these help.;)

For the actual story pacing "Goal, Motivation & Conflict by Debra Dixon. For myself I let the story pace itself and fix up in the end if it doesn't flow.

Dawnstorm
December 7th, 2006, 10:34 AM
Did anyone say "Elements of Style"? It's a decent book, but, flung at a beginner, can do more harm than good. It's simplistic, poses silly rules, ignores important "Elements of Style" except when warning against them. Drillseargant Strunk won't accept any usage that's against his personal taste. Councelor White is too respectful to his Master to counter Strunk's singlemindedness. For anyone interested, it's available for free, online. The Wikipedia entry has a link to both the original Strunk tome and a Strunk & White version (3rd edition, I think; 4th is current). Check it out before buying.

grechzoo
December 7th, 2006, 12:04 PM
thanks guys,

you have helped me a lot.

look forward to showing you some of my work in the near future

Liathano
December 7th, 2006, 05:09 PM
Dawnstorm, I do agree that the book can be a bit too black and white but for a beginner it is a good place to start. I think beginners need to know their rules well before meandering off the path too far. Anyone who has written enough knows where you can bend the rules to suit your style and story. ;)

Dawnstorm
December 7th, 2006, 06:49 PM
Dawnstorm, I do agree that the book can be a bit too black and white but for a beginner it is a good place to start. I think beginners need to know their rules well before meandering off the path too far. Anyone who has written enough knows where you can bend the rules to suit your style and story. ;)

See, the problem is that most of the "bad" usage that Strunk criticised comes from other rules that were taught. Substituting those rule with Strunks works only as long as they counter the original problem. Today Strunk's style is the problem. Due to Strunk's book (among other factors) writers now don't know how to use the passive voice, conditionals, progressive forms... If you think that "the rules" in Strunk & White are really rules, you're probably hopping out of the frying pan into the fire.

Example? Look for Rule 19. Express ideas in similar form:


The unskilled writer often violates this principle, mistakenly believing in the value of constantly varying the form of expression. When repeating a statement to emphasize it, the writer may need to vary its form. Otherwise, the writer should follow the principle of parallel construction.

Formerly, science was taught by the textbook method, while now the laboratory method is employed. // Formerly, science was taught by the textbook method; now it is taught by the laboratory method.

Why does the "unskilled writer often violate this principle"? Probably because he's been told to "avoid repetition"?

Personally, I prefer the former of the two sample sentences (the one Strunk wants to make better). The second one sounds awkward to me. That doesn't mean it's a bad sentence, though. Strunk's points aren't invalid. But it's not hard to see, how a beginning writer would - if he believed Strunk - fall into the opposite extreme and cause too much repition (and thus monotony, which I have less patience for than Strunk).

Interestingly, both sentences violate two of Strunk's own rules: "Omit needless words" (method x 2), and "Use the passive voice". Wouldn't you expect Strunk to give you a sentence that's good from the get go (except for the rule that's broken)?

Formerly, science teachers relied primarily on textbooks, now they employ laboratories. // Formely, science teachers relied primarily on textbooks, now they rely primarily on laboratories.

Whether this is better is arguable, but it conforms more to Strunk's own rules.

Which brings me to the claim following above quote:


The lefthand version gives the impression that the writer is undecided or timid, apparently unable or afraid to choose one form of expression and hold to it. The righthand version shows that the writer has at least made a choice and abided by it.

This is utter nonsense. A preference for variety is not in any way timid. Strunk is using a rhetorical trick and an authoritative tone to convince you to take his solution over that of the competition.

By such singleminded rulemongering Strunk invites the next generation of bad writers. All that changes is the ruleset they apply. "Express ideas in similar form" is in no way superior to "Vary structures to avoid monotony".

When it comes to style, "rules" tilt the balance into a direction, especially if you don't give both possible "rules". As a writer, you're better off with a dictionary and a grammar and a brain. You shouldn't let someone else make your choices for you; especially not when he doesn't tell you that that's what he does.

Sorry, but I go into rants when I hear people suggest S&W. I've seen many texts drained of what made them interesting by applying the "rule treatment". Ideally, a book on style would tell you what the "elements of style" do (all of them, not just those the author likes), and then let the writers make their own decisions.

Sorry, but I disagree. S&W is not good for beginning writers. Later, you'll have to work hard at getting those silly Strunkisms out of your system. (Unless you're lucky and you like to write that way, of course.)

Liathano
December 7th, 2006, 09:50 PM
I can't argue with that. I have moved away from using it long ago and prefer to find my own style depending on the tone I set in the story. Writing is an art form and will always be dependant on the author.

This thread is a testament to the great group we have on this site. You can always get a little help at any level.;)