Sunday, June 3, 2012
Author Blog Challenge - Day 2
What kinds of classes, programs, or workshops have you taken to hone your skill as a writer? What sorts of exercises did/do you use to improve your craft? Have you ever taught a writing class or workshop?
My main source of education has been books, over the years I've read many books about writing, but three stand out:
On Writing by Stephen King
I'm a big Stephen King fan and when this book came out I was thrilled and immediately bought it. While it's a great book, it's not really a "how-to" guide, it's more like "how-he-writes" memoir. It's fascinating, but also intimidating since I realized I could never write like he does! Nowadays I truly grasp the concept that not everyone is or should be like Stephen King, but that particular book set me back a few years in my writing quest. For those who have self-confidence in their writing skills, this is a great book!
Will Write for Shoes: How to Write a Chick Lit Novel by Cathy Yardley
I met Cathy at a talk she gave at the San Diego Public Library promoting her writing book. I enjoyed the way she spoke, how funny she was and I got a small epiphany that day. Around that time my business went bust, was bankrupt, my condo was close to foreclosure, my fiancee left me for someone else BUT after learning about the basic story-telling chick-lit formula I realized my life didn't suck, it was the beginning of a chick lit novel!
Another thing I realized that day was that I did have a writing style. I always thought I had a very simplistic style, I lacked the ability to write beautiful descriptions or metaphors, but that doesn't matter, my style fits perfectly in chick lit.....I was pumped! I felt awesome! I saw myself writing dozens of novels!.....of course that didn't happen, I did mention I was going through some things, right? Time later when wrote my first draft, Cathy's book helped a lot! And so did she!
The Anatomy of Story: 22 Steps to Becoming a Master Storyteller by John Truby
This book looks like my high-school textbooks with highlights, notes and a tattered cover. Truby focuses on film, but his lessons can be easily extrapolated to novels, the explanations are very clear and uses as examples popular movies which most people have watched. The major thing I got from this book is how to make the structure and I'm all about structure! Thanks to this book I wrote up the foundation for my book and following that foundation found it very easy to write the scene and dialogue, soon I'll be ready for the next scary step....re-write.
One time I took a Women's Fiction writing class at UCSD taught by a published author, can't remember her name, all day I've been thinking about the class and I just can't remember anything I learned from it. When she was critiquing our assignments in front of the class, she did mention how angry it made her feel when she read all the grammar mistakes, the good thing is that she didn't mention names! Up to that point I had no idea I had poor grammar, not being a native English speaker I thought I was fine, ah well. After the class I bought several books on grammar, which are still in my bookshelf...they will be opened soon!
I plan to take other courses this year and look forward in improving my writing skills.