Saturday, June 20, 2009

Really Good Advice

I just re-read Lawrence Block's Telling Lies for Fun and Profit - a how-to book for writers. Of all the writer's how-to books I've read, this is my favorite.

Why, you ask? I'll tell you why. His advice is good. It works. Here's a brief summary:
  • Don't over explain. Trust the reader.
  • Don't over-describe. Let the reader use his/her imagination.
  • "Don't begin at the beginning."
  • Verbs are usually the culprit in sentences that don't work.
  • Characters must be: plausible, sympathetic, and original
  • "Hang out." As in, go places. See new things, eavesdrop on conversations, collect grist for your [writing] mill.
  • "Spring forward, fall back."

And the absolute best explanation about how to plot: Put a bear in a canoe...

If you don't have the book, go out and buy it. Now!

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