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Writing reference book suggestions

 
Eagerink
(@eagerink)
Bronze Star Member
Posts: 118

Hi everyone,

Does anyone have a particular book on writing that they swear by? I'm currently interested in improving my scene transitions and filling things in, so if anyone has one that covers that (or just a blog post they can recommend) I would be grateful. It seems to be a difficult subject to find. There's lots on "showing" but not so much on "telling". I did read a really good book on that a while back, maybe I should go back and find it....

But I'm interested in any other book recommendations too Smile

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Topic starter Posted : December 5, 2020 9:00 am
Disgruntled Peony
(@disgruntledpeony)
Gold Star Member
Posts: 1115

I can't think of any books that specifically elaborate on scene transitions at the moment, but a good book for figuring out and improving storytelling ability as a whole (as opposed to improving the mechanical aspects of writing prose) is Damn Fine Story by Chuck Wendig.

I will note that one of the videos in the WotF online workshop deals with telling, and I remember it having some pretty decent thoughts on the matter. If you haven't taken the workshop it might be worth your time, and if you already have you can always pop back through and hunt for that specific video.

If you are in difficulties with a book, try the element of surprise: attack it at an hour when it isn't expecting it. ~ H.G. Wells
R, SF, SHM, SHM, SHM, F, R, HM, SHM, R, HM, R, F, SHM, SHM, SHM, SF, SHM, 1st Place (Q2 V38)
Ticknor Tales

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Posted : December 5, 2020 9:47 am
Reuben
(@reuben)
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Posts: 216

My current favorite writing advice is this short article from Matt Dovey (as referred to me by Dustin), https://mattdovey.com/blog.php?entry=18 . If you want stuff to do add conflict, then add some more. Don't go easy on your characters.

Aside from that, I'd be interested to hear what others say about this.

Success is going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm ~ Winston Churchill
V37: R, R, R, HM
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Posted : December 6, 2020 12:20 am
MrH
 MrH
(@mrh)
Member
Posts: 98

I now the pain of not enough words well.

Scroll down to "how to Fix a short story" where I asked about this before.

I'm about to tackle this very problem on a story. I need to double it at least.

Make sure all your things on your list are there. You know the list you have been writing of all the things people say should be in a story. Any you missed can help you add words easily and make the story better:

Contrast (this is my own, though I'm sure I'm not the first to think of it). Think star Wars. White Jedi, black sith. Red bad laser, green blue good laser. Desert warm planet, metal cold moon. Old master, young apprentice. Talkative droid, non talking droid. So many more. Contrast contrast contrast.

Burn the first act. (Also my own, you at your own discretion). First acts are boring. So jump to the second act where every thing goes to pot and then scatter the first act in as seasoning in the form of dialogue or mentioning or SHOWING what happened before. You want questions first up, lots of questions, Daniel. Then they'll be wanting answers.

Show don't tell.

The five senses. All quickly, then more scattered.

The main characters name in the first two lines.

The seven point thingy: Setting. Character. Problem. Try fail gets worse. Try fail gets worse. Try fail gets worse. Some random git gives validation. "Well, the airplanes got him."

A bit early on that gives the whole story away. Recently, as I'm dumb, I discovered the seatbelts in JP are not just modern fancy one's. Neary 30 years of belief disproved. Alan has two female ends, but life finds a way and he ties a knot.

So on

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Posted : December 6, 2020 9:00 am
Reuben
(@reuben)
Bronze Star Member
Posts: 216

I smell something fishy...

On another note, talking about 7 point plot structure, there are actually two different ones. There's Dave's, but there's also Dan Wells'. It's not better or worse, just different, helps create a structure. He has a thing on youtube and a podcast about it on Writing Excuses.

Basically, it's:

1) Hook (That sets everything up: character, setting)

2) Plot turn one/call to action

3) Pinch one (puts pressure on the character, forces them into action.)

4) Midpoint (When the character moves from Reaction to Action. They decide "I will solve this problem".)

5) Pinch two (Make the situation as dire as possible, do or die. Perhaps they must solve the problem alone.)

6) Plot Turn Two (Character finds the solution. Many Plot Turn Twos in heroic fiction.)

7) Resolution (They do the solution.

Obviously, there are other things that happen throughout the story. These are just the 7 key points that move you from start to finish. It's useful for other analyzing stories and plotting your own.

Success is going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm ~ Winston Churchill
V37: R, R, R, HM
V38: SHM

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Posted : December 11, 2020 1:43 am
Wulf Moon
(@wulfmoon)
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The Seven Point Plot in all its various forms taught today was codified by the first judge of this contest, Algis “AJ” Budrys. His little book, Writing to the Point, spelled it all out. He taught it to Dave and to hundreds of other writers, including myself. To paraphrase Sir Isaac Newton, “If any of us are able to see farther than others, it is only by standing on the shoulders of giants.”

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Posted : December 11, 2020 6:34 am
Dustin Adams
(@axeminister)
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Posts: 997

Writing to the Point is a great book.

I searched and searched for it, but it was out of print and a copy cost $hundreds.
But it's since been re-released and can be found on Amazon. I highly recommend it.

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Posted : December 11, 2020 9:29 pm
MrH
 MrH
(@mrh)
Member
Posts: 98

I'm sure the one book everyone is looking for is out there, somewhere. That's if Indiana Jones hasn't dropped it downs a crack in the floor...

I bought a pack of highlighters with the intention of marking a lot of stuff in a lot of books and trying to spot patterns. Haven't had the heart. Should at least make seperate notes.

The best book on the subject is the one you make yourself. Note down every bit of info you hear or read, and do lots of searches, research. Watch videos or audios of writers. Come up with your own formulas based on all that. I like simple dot point style, with a few extra lines to elaborate if needed. Eg. Turning point. Yin yang. I know that I'm on about, so I don't need to have entire chapters dedicated to it. Most books are just one person's inflated version of this very idea, their experience and research. At least your own can come from far many greater sources and be more up to date.

There's a thing, are there differences between what authors say you should do and what they actually do? I would suspect yes, as they probably change what they do with the times. I really mean, does anyone know of an author who said, do this, then blatantly went and did something else?

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Posted : December 12, 2020 9:34 am
cabarrett
(@cabarrett)
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Posts: 56

There's a thing, are there differences between what authors say you should do and what they actually do? I would suspect yes, as they probably change what they do with the times. I really mean, does anyone know of an author who said, do this, then blatantly went and did something else?

Something I liked and wrote down in my own writing file: the time to break a rule of writing is when breaking the rule is the point of the story (paraphrasing from something in one of Film Crit Hulk's blog entries about deus ex machinas).

... I'm currently interested in improving my scene transitions and filling things in, so if anyone has one that covers that (or just a blog post they can recommend) I would be grateful. It seems to be a difficult subject to find. There's lots on "showing" but not so much on "telling". I did read a really good book on that a while back, maybe I should go back and find it....

Do share the title if you find the book you just read! This is a weakness I'm struggling with too!

The Fantasy Fiction Formula by Deborah Chester talks about scene transition/reaction. And here is her blog post on when to tell. It's helping me right now. I am also working on how much to explain and how much to let the reader infer... it can be difficult to balance with keeping short stories short.

It's also helping me to do more of my fiction "reading" as audiobook listening this year. I think it's common for writers to read a lot and read fast and that changes the experience of prose (especially since I'm also using an ereader). Audiobooks give me a more average reader experience and that's helping me figure out how much to explain and recap things, and how to work it in.

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Posted : December 13, 2020 4:16 am
Eagerink
(@eagerink)
Bronze Star Member
Posts: 118

Do share the title if you find the book you just read! This is a weakness I'm struggling with too!

I am also working on how much to explain and how much to let the reader infer... it can be difficult to balance with keeping short stories short.

Thanks I will check your suggestions out. That part you said about how much to imply - I struggle with that too! I've studied a lot on showing, so I do a lot of it, perhaps too much. But I really like showing! The book I read a while back on showing and telling was called Showing & Telling: Learn How to Show & When to Tell for Powerful & Balanced Writing by Laurie Alberts. I found the telling part to be very helpful, I should go back over my notes from that. The showing part I don't recall finding so helpful, but that may just be because I'd already studied showing so I knew most of it. So much of whether I will find a writing book helpful depends upon what I know already, which can make finding a good one difficult. But always good to go over it again Smile

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Topic starter Posted : December 14, 2020 6:56 pm
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