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Author Topic: about books on writing
arriki
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I have three new books about writing that seem to have some good/different insights. Not the entire book, but parts. However, as usual, they have few if ANY examples to chew on.

I was wondering if anyone here had bought any of these books and would be willing/interested in carrying on a discussion with me through email in an attempt to wrestle out some new techniques to use in our own works?

The books are these:
WRITING FOR EMOTIONAL IMPACT by Karl Iglesias
BETWEEN THE LINES:the subtle elements of fiction writing by Jessica Page Morrell
BULLIES, BASTARDS, & BITCHES:how to write the bad guys of fiction by Jessica Page Morrell


The one I'm most interested in getting help with is the one on emotional impact, but either of the others would be nice, too.

[This message has been edited by arriki (edited October 24, 2008).]


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steffenwolf
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I haven't read those books. I would be very interested in hearing how useful they are.
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arriki
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It looks like the one on emotional impact could be VERY helpful only I need examples and someone to discuss the ideas with.

I want someone (or a small group) to go along with me looking for examples in published novels of the ideas from these writing books. To help me tear those published examples apart searching for how and why they ARE working and to then construct examples of our own either in current work or just as examples. Then we would look at each other's examples and discuss how they do or do not work. A learning experience, no?

The one -- BETWEEN THE LINES -- might be just as insightful and I bought it used for $1.99 on the B&N site. The emotional impact one, alas, is new. $21.95


[This message has been edited by arriki (edited October 24, 2008).]

[This message has been edited by arriki (edited October 24, 2008).]


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arriki
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I was fortunate. BN has BETWEEN THE LINES now for around $10 but abebooks.com has several for 3-4 dollars.
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annepin
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Hi arriki, this sounds like a great idea and I would jump on it, except that none of those books sound very interesting to me at the moment. Perhaps I've had my fill of writing books temporarily.
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SchamMan89
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I used to really be interested in writing books. However, I'm starting to think that if one follows too much of a formula, he or she will lose the story. I kinda found myself doing that a little bit for a while, so I've quickly gone the other direction in my opinion on writing books haha. I mean, how can you teach emotional impact?
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extrinsic
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I grazed those titles at Amazon and on other sites. Ms. Morrel's Web site has synopses of her titles. http://www.writing-life.com/booksbyjessica.htm Mr. Iglesias' title reviewed at Amazon has a comprehensive summary of his title.

In summary, each is an advanced topic on writing, not for the newly emerging writer. Writing for Emotional Impact is largely a cinema-oriented composition. Certainly there's crossover potential from cinema to printed word texts; however, it's emotion that most doesn't translate well from visual media to print media and, of course, vice versa. From what I gleaned, a printed-word writer can take away insights but will need to make appreciable adjustments.

Ms. Morrel's are written-word oriented texts; however, they're in lofty areas of the craft. Personally, I think that they relate techniques that an advanced writer who's ready for that level of writing will stumble onto on their own. Not-quite-there yet advanced writers will find insights, but until they're ready for the message, it will be water under the bridge.

Buying books that are that far along in studying the writing process and that will serve for specialized areas will be of good service to advanced writers, but I can't justify the expense for such narrow topics. Sixty-some-odd dollars to acquire the three titles would be worth it if I felt they would offer more than a few tidbits, like if they were the cause of my tipping point in writing. I see that they could do that for a writer ready to understand those last confounding aspects of story, that understanding that will take a well-founded mechanically tight story into its full realization.

For me, it was explorations of emotion and meaning in areas other than story that turned the tide. My climactic insights didn't come from studying writing texts; they came from studying the peculiar fourth person of animacy and fifth person of obviateness through Native American languages and how humans express emotion in clusters and through nonverbal communication. changingminds.org has become my one-stop shop for exploring meaning space as it relates to how social beings interact emotionally. http://changingminds.org/index.htm from argument to values, emotion, nonverbal communication, plot types and a deep tree of individual topic pages, I find changingminds' approach to unravelling the meaning of interaction and proactively implementing social interaction techniques the most helpful for understanding how to write emotionally potent stories.

[This message has been edited by extrinsic (edited October 28, 2008).]


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arriki
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Used, they are quite less expensive. As I said, BETWEEN THE LINEScan be bought for $3-4. I bought the one on emotion new because used it was still almost the same price and I'm very interested in the topic. I feel I desperately need help with it. I'm not looking for some fellow writer to buy all three books. Just one to start going through, studying. And, despite the hype on Amazon, it's not "lofty" aspects. Anybody, with help, can benefit from studying the ideas in any one of these books. (I have dismissed the one on bad guys. Too limited at the moment.)

The problem -- for me -- is that the discussions raise my interest but there are no examples laid out. Oh, they mention that what they just talked about appears in this book or that movie, but I do not find such mere mentions informative. I want a Schaum's Outline for these subjects with example after annotated example followed by exercises. That, it appears, is left up to the student. Me!

Many heads are better than one in trying to puzzle out real world applications. How exactly does one go about inserting backstory, for instance? Doing it well? Let's see some concrete examples to give me hints.

STORY, a screenwriting text by Robert McKee did. One. One great example. I learned a lot from that one. But there are many, many others out there.

On the business of screenwriting as opposed to novel-short story writing texts. I'm not proud. I'm willing to learn from anybody with some expertise to share.

[This message has been edited by arriki (edited October 28, 2008).]


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arriki
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SchamMan89, it's not about formulae.

It's about learning enough that I don't have to fall back on the same methods of making things happen in my stories.

It's about building our own individual, shared libraries of examples to study. To puzzle out strategies for accomplishing what we want in our own writing.

And, yes, you can do this with the emotional aspects of writing, too.


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extrinsic
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arriki, I wanted to be told the five W's of writing, too. I didn't find it in writing compositions. What I encountered was accomplished authors speaking from what they know, not speaking to what I didn't know.

I'm so poor I can hardly afford to pay attention. Even a dollar spent on a promising row is a dollar wasted if I glean little from the harvest. It's a dollar spent out of my food budget, which is mean to say the least. I bake my daily bread.

What served me best for good or worse in unravelling the secrets of good storytelling is picking a breadboard-rig story and sticking with it. In my storywriting, as I unconsiously emulated the principles I uncovered from my breadboard rig, I realized what I was doing. The epiphanies followed. Then I revisited the breadboard rig to scrutinize what I'd uncovered. Then came conscious application.

Hemingway's The Old Man and the Sea is my breadboard rig. In it, I believe he solidified his understanding and application of semantic space that he'd been instinctively applying in his earlier stories. I think that "Hills Like White Elephants" is where he became aware of what he was doing semantic space-wise. In Across the River and into the Trees I think he overshot the mark, but effectively sighted in with The Old Man and the Sea.

Pick a story that contains what you seek and I'll be happy to discuss the most superficial to the finest aspects of emotional context in story on the forum or off. I'll be addressing same on "Cory's Fall from Grace," once I've had time to digest it.


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arriki
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One story? I scour every story I read for insights, techniques, ways to better my writing. One story, no matter how good, I find too limiting. If I were to do that, I would have selected Mary Renault's THE LAST OF THE WINE or her FIRE FROM HEAVEN. And missed so many ideas and techniques.
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SchamMan89
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I see where you're coming from arriki, and perhaps it works for you. If so, that's great. Personally, I just find that probably 90% of the stuff in writing books I've read is either stuff I already know (from experience with various stories) or not useful at all to me. There is 10% that I find useful, but I think that taking part in writing groups and writing forums such as this one fill in that void.

That's just my own opinion based on my limited experience. Everybody's minds work a little bit differently and require different methods of input.
~Chris


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satate
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I'd be happy to do it with you if I could find the book at the library. My time is limited, but I enjoy reading books about writing because I don't get addicted to reading them. They're enjoyable and I can put it down. I might even be able to buy one. E-mail me and we can talk.
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arriki
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Will do. Glad to meet you.
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KStar
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I read a useful book called "How Not to Write a Novel". I can't recall who it's by, but it was helpful. It gave 200 common mistakes, things that made sense, and it was a funny book with examples of every wrong thing you could do.

I recommend it.


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skadder
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Personally, I think that reading books on writing is great when you first start off, but then becomes pointless. Once you can write a bit it is just a case of practice. It is a case of chipping away at all the things you do that make your writing not as good as it could be. They can only be identified by people critting what you do actually write.

I read:

Characters and View Points--OSC
How to Write Science Fiction and Fantasy--OSC
Elements of Style--Strunk and White

Perhaps one or two other...

I think the best thing you can do is then to write more. You are more likely to meet writers better than you online than locally. I also think it is important how you receive a crit.

When my stuff is critted I try and alter it (especially 13 lines) to meet the critters comments, and then see if I, and others, think it is better or worse. I find that really good way of improving my writing.


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