Monday, May 6, 2013

It's all her fault, I didn't do it

I was talking (i.e., chatting) with a friend last week and she suggested that I write a book on writing craft. I thought about it, spent a few hours one day writing a beginning.

The interesting thing with books about writing is that very few have any practical advice. They chatter on about plot and characterization and punctuation and the proper use of dialogue tags, but chatter is useless unless it actually tells the reader how to apply the oft-repeated advice.

A whole chapter on how to deepen characterization? Fine. I need to deepen my characterization, and you just spent twenty pages giving me bad examples in one paragraph increments. Now tell me how to do it.

A whole chapter on self-editing? Great. Now help me gain the skills I need to see those doubled words that you've just spent fifteen pages telling me I can't see.

The exercise of writing a "craft" book has been interesting. Who knows where (or when) it will end, but so far it's given me some perspective, not only on my own writing style but also in how difficult it is to give out advice on writing that people can actually use.

Since everyone's writing style is different (not to mention that "hard and fast rules" in writing are generally nonsense) the territory that needs to be covered is massive and baffling. An eight-hundred page encyclopedia on the writing craft would just be one more thing to add to my writer's bookshelf.

No thanks.

It's a huge project, but so far it's one I'm enjoying. I decided to start with the actual writing process, from idea to publication. After that, we'll see. When it bumbles into the air and I inflict it on other people, please remember that it's not my fault. It was her idea.

Oh, and on the topic of writing advice...Other people may not notice when there's a whole string of "saids," but I do.