This month I'm sharing two books for writers that I found useful when I became stuck with the book I'm currently writing. No, I'm not affiliated with the authors or SKILL BUILDERS SERIES; I'm just sharing what I found useful. The first book has a particularly useful grammar section for those who were never taught it at school. Like drawing in art courses, grammar in English courses comes in and out of fashion in the teaching syllabus. The second book explores the "show not tell" strategy more fully than it is usually handled.
Walks, doing inspirational writing exercises, listening to music, reading a zany short story are some of the usual recommendations to unblock being stuck with writing. Blocking often occurs when one has been faithfully turning up every day to write and one 's writing becomes stale. When I was recently blocked I turned to another aspect of my book, the "show don't tell", hence the second book, "Understanding Show, Don't tell".
For people who aren't writers here is a very simple example of both telling and showing:
X felt paralysed with shock" is an example of stating a fact or telling.
X's heart started beating, her mouth was dry while her knees buckled is showing the effects of shock rather than just stating the fact. WE as writers are encouraged to "show not tell".
Chekhov put it so much better by saying?
Do not tell me the moon is shining. Show me the glint of light on broken glass.
I had an interesting discussion with some writers about the pros and cons of planning a book in the last month. A writer such as Robert Ludlum plans his book in great detail. Stephen King begins with the hook in Chapter One and with no planning reaches the end of the novel. Which way is right? Neither. In most cases, writers use both methods at different times, and then add their own variations on a theme. All work in cycles of rewriting as new ideas come and go and a lot of them agree that routine can kill off creativity. So what do you do?
Many writing courses support the idea of writing a first draft in full, before any kind of editing takes place. The argument goes that with a first draft you've got something on computer to edit. It's hard to edit if you have nothing in front of you. I would point out writers who are contracted to publishing houses have their first draft changed by three or more editors before the book is published. That's a lot of rewriting for the original author.
LINKS TO MY BOOKS
Barbara M Webb graduated in English at Queensland University, St Lucia. She has lived in 7 of the 52 countries she has visited. and now lives in Cornwall in the UK.