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Any good websites/books to learn how to create interesting writing? (1 Viewer)

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MaeyMaeyCute

Senior Member
Hey everyone! I'm an aspiring author and since before I can remember I've always loved to create stories in my head. I've gotten to a point where I'd like to write these ideas down...and in an interesting way. That's not to say that I've never written before but I feel like my storytelling skills are errr...kinda bad. Well, I don't think my writing skills are awful but they definitely aren't amazing :nightmare:. Are there any good websites or books that explain how to compose interesting sentences for novels? How to create different narrative "voices"? Grammar? Does anyone have some random tips? Thanks!
 

gmehl

Senior Member
There are probably as many how-to books as there are writers, agents and editors combined, and your local library can probably overwhelm you with a back-breaking collection guaranteed to boggle your mind.

Or you can read read read and read some more, especially in your favorite genre and especially from people who are really good at it. Then you can read read read and read some more outside of your favorite genre, especially the really classic names in literature. The catch is that you have to discard the "entertain me" mode of readers and don the analytical mode of a student -- pay attention to how they do things, paint a scene, create a character, build tension, alter distance, use literary devices for effect.

Then you try it yourself. Write sketches, scenes, characters, scraps of dialog. Write from varied points of view, strive for emotional effects, build drama. Tell a joke, an amazing bit of news, relate something sad. Put yourself on a stage, don a mask, play with voices, mesmerize the audience. Play with words, the rhythm of sentences, harmonics of language. Build a paragraph that gently, gently draws the reader further and further in, then smack 'em on the head. Find the words to reach in, grab the reader's heart and squeeze it. Write repartee that sizzles and a monologue that makes us weep.

Take an idea, any idea, and turn it into a maximum of a 25-word sentence that tells a story: setup, conflict, resolution. If it sounds intriguing, expand it into 150 to 200 words that focus on characters and internal arcs. Then stretch it out into a longer synopsis, with character depth and inner/outward goals, inner conflicts and external obstacles, bring pacing and tension-building and continually rising stakes under absolute control, add a stirring climax and a satisfying resolution.

And prepare to do it again and again, over the span of an entire literary career, because even the best work really hard to always improve.

So it's really pretty simple, and today is an excellent starting point. Good luck; you're about to embark on a really incredible journey.
 

Nickleby

WF Veterans
You've found this site, so you're halfway there.:wink: Seriously, any of the so-called rules of writing have been ripped to shreds here. There aren't any rules ... at least, until you know them well enough to break them. Go back through this subforum, find a topic that intrigues you, and skim through the entries. Keep going until they start repeating. Then forget half of it.

The bottom line is that writing is like any other skill. The more you practice, the better you get. When you finish a paragraph, look at it and think about how you could improve it. When you read a book, try to learn from it--what works, what doesn't, how the author gets a specific reaction from you, why she chose one word and not another, how she puts you inside a character's head, how the suspense slowly builds without breaking.

Probably the most important skill you can learn is how to unlearn. In time you'll develop your own voice, which means you'll gradually drop the tricks and shortcuts you've learned from other writers (your "influences"). Rules work--that's why we have them--but they don't work for every writer in every situation. Put what you want to say ahead of how you say it.
 

Jeko

WF Veterans
The Elements of Style will do. That and every other story ever written, and all the paper and ink you can find. Read, read, read and write, write, write!

I avoid how-to books because you end up reading them a lot more than you end up writing your story. And the people who wrote them aren't usually hoping to enrich your writing potential - they just want your money.

The most important thing to do is keep at it. The first twelve years are the worst*. :)

*so says Anne Enright
 

Sintalion

Senior Member
Honestly I don't reference any sites in particular, except for dictionary.com. If I have something specific I want to know I use google (differences in bone density across races or how to use semi-colons), read a few of the articles that popped up, and get to work. I wouldn't worry about composing interesting sentences- I'd worry about being able to get the words out, first. It's easy to fix problems and beautify sentences in edits. It's much harder to actually write a novel.

My advice would be not to be too hard on yourself the first go round, but do tear your baby to shreds in editing. Remember that what you wrote isn't necessarily bad, you're just making it better.
 

Gamer_2k4

WF Veterans
Just read books and watch movies, but do it with an eye for technique. Figure out why a particular story grips you, or what it is about a character or a line of dialogue that keeps you coming back. Compare authors and decide why you like one over another.

Theory is great, but practical application is better. No amount of reading about writing will ever match the benefits of reading the writing itself.
 

Skodt

WF Veteran
WF Veterans
My suggestion is not to get to wrapped up in what makes writing. You know what makes the best writing? WRITING! It doesn't take a handbook or an authors blog to teach you to write. You have to sit down and practice the craft. You can read about how to shoot a basketball all day, but until you actually try it you won't know how good you actually are.

Now saying that this forum provides excellent help for standard questions. Say you find yourself behind the keyboard and your typing away, and OH NOES! You have hit a block. You can't figure out what that block is. So you come back here and you research. Or you post your work for Crit. Maybe you just need to critique others work, and then you can bust that wall down.

Having a book about writing in my own opinion, causes you to stress. Did I do that sentence right? Is that word correct? This causes you to stop doing the most important thing, Write! Stress is abundant enough when you start a story. Do not add to your troubles, by seeing rules. Rules are not actually rules, but guidelines, and you can write without them.
 

Myers

Senior Member
I've come across some good information and different ways of looking at things on websites, blogs and in writing books. I make note of what I think might be useful for the way I write and leave the rest, so none of it causes me to second guess or stress out. I take it all with a grain of salt. And that includes what people say here.
 

Topper88

Senior Member
According to Stephen King, the secret is to read a lot and write a lot. And not only to read books in your genre, and not even to read only GOOD books. Apparently, reading a book that's bad will help you to recognize mistakes writers make and allow you to avoid making them in your writing.
 

Jeko

WF Veterans
Apparently, reading a book that's bad will help you to recognize mistakes writers make and allow you to avoid making them in your writing.

I've definitely found this.

In a similar way, don't limit yourself to what you consider to be deep, complicated literature. Read some of the simplest stuff. It brings the whole storytelling thing down to earth.
 

Tiamat

Patron
There are probably as many how-to books as there are writers, agents and editors combined, and your local library can probably overwhelm you with a back-breaking collection guaranteed to boggle your mind.

Or you can read read read and read some more, especially in your favorite genre and especially from people who are really good at it. Then you can read read read and read some more outside of your favorite genre, especially the really classic names in literature. The catch is that you have to discard the "entertain me" mode of readers and don the analytical mode of a student -- pay attention to how they do things, paint a scene, create a character, build tension, alter distance, use literary devices for effect.

Then you try it yourself. Write sketches, scenes, characters, scraps of dialog. Write from varied points of view, strive for emotional effects, build drama. Tell a joke, an amazing bit of news, relate something sad. Put yourself on a stage, don a mask, play with voices, mesmerize the audience. Play with words, the rhythm of sentences, harmonics of language. Build a paragraph that gently, gently draws the reader further and further in, then smack 'em on the head. Find the words to reach in, grab the reader's heart and squeeze it. Write repartee that sizzles and a monologue that makes us weep.

Take an idea, any idea, and turn it into a maximum of a 25-word sentence that tells a story: setup, conflict, resolution. If it sounds intriguing, expand it into 150 to 200 words that focus on characters and internal arcs. Then stretch it out into a longer synopsis, with character depth and inner/outward goals, inner conflicts and external obstacles, bring pacing and tension-building and continually rising stakes under absolute control, add a stirring climax and a satisfying resolution.

And prepare to do it again and again, over the span of an entire literary career, because even the best work really hard to always improve.

So it's really pretty simple, and today is an excellent starting point. Good luck; you're about to embark on a really incredible journey.
This. But to it, I'll add a dictionary and a book on grammar. A writer without an array of words and a solid command of them is like a plumber who doesn't know how to unclog a drain--pretty darn useless.
 

Jeko

WF Veterans
This. But to it, I'll add a dictionary and a book on grammar. A writer without an array of words and a solid command of them is like a plumber who doesn't know how to unclog a drain--pretty darn useless.

Curious: I never use a dictionary or thesaurus when I'm writing. I only allow myself to use words that already have a home in my head. I guess it stops me from being overly wordy at times, while limiting me at others. But I enjoy being dictionary-less more. :)
 

PiP

Staff member
Co-Owner
Curious: I never use a dictionary or thesaurus when I'm writing. I only allow myself to use words that already have a home in my head. I guess it stops me from being overly wordy at times, while limiting me at others. But I enjoy being dictionary-less more. :)

I use a dictionary and thesaurus all the time when I am writing, especially for poetry. Probably because over time my vocabulary has stagnated.

Are there any good websites or books that explain how to compose interesting sentences for novels? How to create different narrative "voices"? Grammar?


Have you tried Grammar Girl? I find this site quite useful :)

PiP
 
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