This year we're back to first-of-the month posts, this year topics are about writing well and telling a story well.
Writing does not beget good writing, it begets repetition of the same-old principals of setting words into sentences that were taught in school.
In order to write quality stories worth a reader's interest, time, and money, a writer needs to learn and then train their mind to write with techniques of the successful, highly paid, multi-published.
It's the difference between learning to swim and making the Olympic team in swimming.
That's why I tell new writers to stop writing and learn craft. Craft enhances talent and liberates creativity. And here's the catch — by learning craft, a writer must practice what they're learning and thus bring to the writing a whole new aspect of workmanship and mastery of word images.
Other benefits follow, like far less rewriting, far less revising, and far less errors of all kinds from the big picture of plot to the minuscule of line edits done word by word.
If you're truly interested in writing well and telling a story well, then take a time out to learn. Start with books on craft, not an Internet blog post or two of a few hundred words, but books that cover a topic-subject in tens of thousands of words. Then practice that craft subject in a short form— a short story or a scene— until it comes naturally. Those will not be wasted words. Those will be better words, better scenes, better stories.
So where should a writer start this learning curve? Start by learning what story is. And I will recommend the following books that can teach this:
A STORY IS A PROMISE by Bill Johnson
This book is filled with, as the subtitle says: "Good things to know before you write that screenplay, novel, or play." And never forget, verbal stories, epic poem-stories, and plays came long before novels.
HOW TO TELL A STORY—THE SECRETS OF WRITING CAPTIVATING TALES by Peter Rubie and Gary Provost
This book does hold the secrets of writing captivating tales.
WRITING THE SHORT STORY—A HANDS-ON PROGRAM by Jack M. Bickham
This book takes a writer step-by-step through the Developed Short Story. Here's the catch: the only difference between the Developed Short Story and a Novel is length and scope. Learn to write the Developed Short Story and the novel is oh so much easier to do.
SAVE THE CAT by Blake Snyder
A screenwriters bible, but again, plays came before novels. This book's how-to's give insight and practical advice on story and writing a story.
You don't have to buy the books. You can usually get them through the Library Loan system.
It's the New Year and resolutions and goals often are set — or at least thought about. Isn't it time you made a commitment to not just writing the same-old way but writing well and telling a story well?
****Stop back the first of February for the next posting to this blog. — Catherine E. McLean, Author, Writing Instructor, Workshop Speaker
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