Reading Like a Writer by Francine Prose

I first spied Francine Prose’s book, Reading Like a Writer, while shelving at my former job. I sneaked a few moments to read the first few pages and Reading Like a Writerinstantly fell in love. The sentence that resonated with me, “Like most–maybe all–writers, I learned to write by writing and, by example, by reading books,” combined with, “Long before the idea of a writer’s conference was a glimmer in anyone’s eye, writers learned by reading the work of their predecessors,” confirmed for me that I had found a kindred spirit. Her passion for reading and writing and the process of learning by indulging in both was the best piece of advice I had ever heard. Mrs. Prose’s comments awakened in me what I always believed to be true: great writing is an organic process that comes from creating beyond outlines and plot-pointed structures with perfect character arcs.

Great writing begins with close reading and follows with careful consideration for every word that will become a sentence, which will become a paragraph. This isn’t to say that Mrs. Prose or I believe writing should be utter chaos without any structure, but I trust if one applied her approach to their own writing, he or she would see amazing growth in how they create characters, employ narration and dialogue, and present details and gestures.

Woven throughout the book are examples from great writers that will back up what Mrs. Prose is teaching. You don’t need to be familiar with these authors or their works to appreciate them. Another reviewer I read proclaimed his dislike for Mrs. Prose’s book because he didn’t know any of the referenced works. I suspect he thought Mrs. Prose was being pretentious; I encourage you not to be intimidated by her knowledge but rather delve into the suggested reading list as soon as possible.

Another aspect of the book that appealed to me is Mrs. Prose’s admission that while there are rules in writing for the express purpose of guiding us, rules are, essentially, meant to be broken. And if you’re brave enough to ride off the reservation of writing rules, make sure you’re breaking them brilliantly.

Regardless of your preferred writing style or approach thereof, I highly recommend reading Francine Prose’s book. I would be truly surprised if you didn’t take away something positive from the experience.

Wardrobe Selection

untitled (6)In yesterday’s blog post, When the Clothes Really Do Make the Man, I provided a link to a website for excellent information regarding vintage clothing.

Today’s trip down Research Road stops at a post by Liz Michalski on Writer Unboxed. In her article, Clothing Your Characters, Liz offers insight into why the clothing you choose for your character is important in how it relates to character development.

After reading Liz’s article, I stepped back for a moment to see how well I portrayed clothing in my novel, The Secrets of Dr. John Welles. There were a couple of scenes where the clothing my characters wore was important to the story, however, I may use the tips Liz suggested to create a more tactile feel to other parts of my story.

What Can You Show Me?

What Can You Show Me

Some day, I want someone to tell me where the advice Show, Don’t Tell came from.  I’m pretty sure all during my childhood, I never once said, “Mommy, show me a story.”  Until then, I’ll dodge the flack I receive for that comment and do my best to conform to the rules.

With that being said, I’m stocking my Writing Toolbox with the post Show, Don’t Tell: Revealing True Emotion In Dialogue by Angela Ackerman of Writers Helping Writers.  Ms. Ackerman supplies five very helpful tips on how to do this.  She even goes one better when she responds to the same question asked by another follower and myself.  Her example of how to employ her suggestions are detailed yet easily understood.

I believe we can all benefit from this.

Strong, Silent, and Well Written

Strong, Silent and Well WrittenToday’s addition to my Writing Toolbox goes into the Character Development drawer.  The post I chose to share is one of my favorites because it uses Major Richard Winters of Band of Brothers fame as the perfect example of the strong and silent character.

I have to laugh because yet again, K.M. Weiland is responsible for this brilliant piece of advice.  I forgot that detail as I sifted through my boards on Pinterest while deciding which pin to use.  Ms. Weiland is either going to be flattered or think I’m the biggest suck up in the history of sucking up.  I’m hoping for the first option.

I hope you find this advice as helpful as I did.  Enjoy!

How to Write Strong and Silent Characters

Advice on Character Description

Nine times out of ten, when I find a piece of good writing advice on the Internet, the link directs me to K.M. Weiland’s website, Helping Writers Become Authors. And just as many times, I’m in agreement with what she has to say.

Like a carpenter stocking his toolbox with quality tools, my goal is to fill up my Writing Toolbox with valuable advice, tips, suggestions, etc. In turn, I want to share what I found with people who are seeking assistance with their own writing.

Most of the posts I put in my Writing Toolbox have been created by the owners of the sites to which I link. I will always indicate the website/blog name and owner (if known). When I create the post on my own, I’ll let you know.

So, with that being said, it is my very great privilege to share K.M. Weiland’s advice on ‘4 Ways to Make Readers Instantly Loathe Your Character Descriptions.’

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