13 October 2007

favorite writing books

Lesley asked us about our favorite writing books. I've read a few, but probably the one which most speaks to my personal process is WRITE AWAY by Elizabeth George. For those of you not in the know, she writes a popular mystery series set in Britain and featuring Inspector Lynley.

The first thing that struck me about this book is excerpts from her personal writing journal. She writes in this journal every day to jump start her creative juices. Some of us do this with coffee or M&Ms. I tend to use tea and writing myself. I post on my personal blog or over here, and I leave notes for my many Internet friendlies. But however you do it, starting off a writing session with some "non-threatening" writing, either in a journal no one sees or on a blog everyone sees, makes a great deal of sense. Caveat: there must be a time limit because these endeavors can eat up valuable production time.

Beyond that, her detailing her own process helped me nail down my own. As George does, I begin with characters scripts (short for description--why? I don't know. I've just always called them that) or profiles. From their personalities, I can begin to glean what challenges they must face in order to grow. From their history, a synopsis evolves. Yes! I know! Everyone hates a synopsis. I write synopses for even my short stories, and even if they change, they give me something to work from. Synopsis form insists that plots must be tight, every action and reaction must have reason and motivation. Working from a synopsis, even when it evolves or changes outright, helps my own efficiency.

The book is full of insights and advice for the aspiring writer. George never talks down to the reader, and she insists on encouragement every step of the way. It's an uplifting writing book and one I recommend.

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