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July 20th, 2004, 07:40 AM
Hi all,

I was just wondering if you guys are subscribed to any magazines for writers like Writer's Digest, or to some of the major short story magazines, and how much you feel that they help out?

Also before you started writing did you read any "how to" books and which you found most helpful?

July 20th, 2004, 08:54 AM
How to write SF & F by Orson Scott Card was my mainstay introduction to writing spec fic, just because I loved Ender's Game and I saw it at a bookstore. It's good as far as idea tips, but don't expect any practical writing help. If you need help with plot and world-building and knowing what you need to consider, it'll be invaluable.

As far as technique goes, I've tried to avoid picking up any books on it. I read authors I like, and pick apart their work, sentence by sentence. My suggestion is to make sure you have a dictionary, a thesaurus and a rhyming dictionary (If you're into a more poetic style of prose, a rhyming dictionary can be invaluable).

Of course, the archives here at SFF are an equally valuable source of information.

ironchef texmex
July 20th, 2004, 05:38 PM
Like Pax, my technique was mainly a thing I distilled from writers whose work resonated within me.

The only writing book that I would even say has contributed (out of the ten or so I've read) is David Gerrold's Worlds of Wonder. It has a number of good basic principles as opposed to many of the others which seem to say "write like me" then try and tell you what words or styles they wished to be expunged from all literature.

July 20th, 2004, 06:22 PM
I subscribed to Writer's Digest for a year. Unfortunately I can't afford it anymore. Some of the writer's digest books are good too, some aren't. I particularly enjoyed on on Conflict, Action and Suspense (can't remember the author).

What's helped me the most to this point has been the Online Writng Workshop for Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror. Unfortunately they started charging for it, and once again I can't afford it anymore. That's okay though. It helpd tremedously when I started out, but it has diminishing returns, once you master the basics.

It's also a good idea to buy a subscription to any magazine you plan to submit to. I'm more of an "off the stand" kind of guy so I don't have any subscriptions at the moment, but I do what I can to support the field.

July 20th, 2004, 11:34 PM
Stephen King's On Writing is a good book; mostly motivational for me. A MUST have for any author of any type is Strunk and White's The Elements of Style. This'll teach you all about basic grammer in 87 pages.

If you working on your own style, that comes with time and practice. If you've got something, don't be afraid to post it here and let us tear it apart. You'll find we're mostly harmless and we'll help you harden that outer shell for when you submit your work for publication and get a rejection letter. :)

If you're eager to write, post in the exercises in this forum. You'll get some feedback and you'll get practice at writing short pieces. Any practice will help and the more you do it, the better you'll get. I promise. Get out there and write.

July 21st, 2004, 12:02 AM
Thanks a lot guys.

I decided to write... well, a long time ago, but didn't actually get half serious about it till a couple of weeks ago.

At which time I placed a rather large order on Amazon for some books on writing. So far I've read Characters & Viewpoints and How to Write SF & F both by OSC. I'd say Characters & Viewpoints helped me more in understanding the basics and classifications of it all and what not. Also I found, with the exception of the chapters dealing with publishing, most of the stuff in How to Write SF & F was covered (and many times in more detail) in Characters & Viewpoints. How to Write SF & F was still worth the price to me, however, if only for the chapters about publication, writers' lives, and the few new ideas that weren't in C&V.

I did purchase that Conflict, Action & Suspense book by William Noble in my 'how to' book binge, and look forward to giving it a once or twice over.

I did post for Exercise 7, which was really the first time I've written anything 'fictitious' and showed it to anyone. And though I did start writing something for Excercise 8, I soon found that I had more than doubled your word limit, hadn't been very descriptive about the environment, and was enjoying it too much to go back and change it. I do, however, plan to occasionally grace you with my works in the future, hopefully everyone's eyes will still be intact after reading the crap I put there. ;)

July 21st, 2004, 12:57 AM
As said before, I am all about critiquing books I read. I learn what to do and not to do from the way the words hit me. And I am pretty critical when it comes to reading, so I think I can pick up on some of the subtilites of writing from doing this.

Another great support structure is SFFWorld. I have posted a bit on here, and though they tear it to shreds and leave you crying in the corner (hehe, j/k), you will learn a lot. Sometimes when we write, we see it all happening in our head, but don't translate it well to a reader with little or no knowledge of your vision. That seems to be my toughest problem is making others see what I am seeing.

July 21st, 2004, 09:50 AM
ive never posted an stories here,... well, except for the exercises....i have to say, im nervous.....lol......but i will have to sometime.

As for books on writing....ive read How to Write SF+F by Orson Scott Card, and loved it. but nothing else. mostly i just, as others have said, pull a part others authors work...and even movies. i saw spiderman 2 last night....(kinda off topic, i know) and it was good, but the script needed work.! i found myself re-wording almost everything the characters said, and noting where someone should have stopped talking here or there.....im a terrible movie-goer, i guess.....