I’m of the opinion that a writer has to keep learning and growing.
(I actually think that there’s a bare minimum level of writing capability that’s needed to write things people will read and that it’s a lot lower than most people think. But storytelling ability is something you have to keep working on forever.)
I’ve been in learning mode. (And set to continue with a workshop this weekend and another conference in October.)
And I have three recommendations to make to anyone that wants to learn more.
First, a free resource. (Always good for broke writers.) Over on the BookCafe website, Ursula K. LeGuin is answering questions on writing craft. Right now the links are easiest to access from her main website.
This woman has forgotten more about writing than most of us will ever learn and she has a lovely sense of humor, too. Sure, some of the questions are pretty basic, but it’s still worth a read to see how someone who made a career out of this approaches key early writer angsty issues.
Her Steering The Craft book is also great and looks like a new updated version will be out September 1st.
Second, a book worth reading, The Irresistible Novel. I really liked the format and approach of this book. He tackles a lot of the “rules” of writing, explains why they exist, why they might be wrong, his opinion, and the opinion of gatekeepers (for those seeking trade publication).
His general stance that there really shouldn’t be RULES that everyone has to follow fits with my own take on things. I believe if it works, it works.
This was also the first time I read about the hero’s journey and really had it stick for me. (Maybe because I was comparing it to the most recent novel I wrote and realizing that, holy shit, I actually used the hero’s journey in my novel. Which let’s hope means good things for how it’ll resonate with readers.)
Anyway. It’s a good read and well worth the time. Thanks to Dave Farland for mentioning it on his site.
Third, an online series of videos by James Patterson. I’ve never read his books, although I might check a few out now, but I have to say that he was so open and refreshing that it was great. He’s one of the top writers out there right now and having a chance to hear what he does and thinks about writing is an invaluable gift.
(And, yes, I know there are some who get all pissy about him using co-writers and blah blah blah, but, trust me, the man knows what he’s doing. I may not be able to replicate what top writers do yet, but I have a very good gut check bullshit detector and as a long-time reader what he said about story, etc. rang true with me.)
So there you have it. For $100 you can explore three great resources that help improve your writing craft.
And now I’m off to put those lessons to some practical use. Because, as UKL said, ultimately you learn by doing.