Scott D. Parker
Fellow writers and creatives, do y'all like talking shop with fellow creatives? Over the years I've found talking the details of the writing process with others actually gets me fired up to write. Case in point: my co-worker.
David--who also happens to be the graphic designer who created the cover for ALL CHICKENS MUST DIE--wants to write. His brother, too. Now, David's got a built-in advantage over someone like me in that, eventually, he will illustrate and write. A nice combo to have. He's got the illustrating part locked in. What he doesn't know how to do is write.
That's where I come in.
These past few weeks, during breaks and such, we've been talking shop, specifically how I do my writing. I relate all my pitfalls and triumphs and even let him borrow a few of the books from my library. We sometimes try and relate writing techniques to his art techniques, wondering if there are similarities to that which he is used to in the art world. What usually happens during our discussions is the massive urge to run home, open up my computer, and start writing! But we can’t because we have to work. Ugh.
But talking out the technical process of writing, creating a story, etc., is a wonderful way to help me learn more. You know, teach and you will also learn? What was great about a recent conversation was when we were discussing the pieces that make up a story. Inciting incident, point of no return, denouement, etc. Know what I’m talking about? It was neat seeing the light bulb illuminate on his face just like it did for me when I figured that out.
Speaking of books, when asked for recommendations, I ended up with the following:
- Plotting: A Novelist's Workout Guide by Aaron Allston
- Story by Robert McKee
- Story Engineering by Larry Brooks
- Million Dollar Outlines by David Farland
- Take Off Your Pants by Libbie Hawker
Do y’all have a certain set of folks with whom you talk writing techniques?
Does talking about your craft recharge your batteries for the craft?
What are some of your how-to writing books?
My greatest frustration as a writer is finding good craft discussions, even in social media. Everyone wants to talk about the industry and sales. It's hard to get a craft discussion going. That might be what I miss most about life as a musician. All we ever wanted to talk about was trumpet playing. Equipment, techniques, gigs we'd played, tips on how to pace yourself through a Mahler symphony, whatever. I miss the hell out of that.
Two more books I've found to be worthwhile (in fact I have them both queued up to read before I start the draft of the next book) and Stephen King's ON WRITING, and John McNally's VIVID AND CONTINUOUS. I've read them both more than once, so it's not like I'm likely to learn anything new, but it's always nice to be reminded of things. Both books have another side benefit: the love of the craft flows through every sentence. They always get me worked up to do the heavy lifting of a first draft.
(Another highly recommended bit of advice is to find Alan Guthrie's "Hunting Down the Pleonasms" on the web. Every tip is a gem and it's a three-minute read.)
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