The 3 A.M. Epiphany: Blurb & Collage

3AM Epiphany.jpg

If you click the image, you will be teleported to my Flickr.  This is where it lives in high resolution.  As always, it was created by me and is free to share and use for your own nefarious purposes.


Another great week, another great book read.  The 3 A.M. Epiphany, by Brian Kiteley, was an unexpected gift from my wife.  When I saw the cover, I assumed it was a book about writing dream journals, something which I’ve talked about here.  It’s actually a book jam-packed with amazing writing prompts.  Really well crafted ones at that.

If you are a flash fiction aficionado, a novelist in a rut, or just someone who wants to expand the way they think about fiction and writing, you will find many useful exercises on these pages.  What is refreshing about this book is that it isn’t so much a book on how to write – it’s a book on ideas for you to write from.  It forces you to abandon the concept that you don’t have any thoughts to work from by offering you hundreds of them.

3AM Epiphany.jpgWith more than 200 well written and explained writing prompts to work from it provides a rough outline for you to apply your personal touch.  Categories range from serious topics, to the absolute insane ones.  It even provides you a template to generate your own writing prompts (something a blogger could make good use of – not me though).

Overall, I’m happy to own this book (especially considering its source).  While I certainly haven’t worked through all the exercises, I did read them.  Even just reading them really broadened my range when it comes to story telling.  As writers we tend to focus on what is familiar.  This book challenges you to step out of your comfort zone and add dimension and depth to your craft.  Add this to you free writing routing (which I’ve talked about before here) and you will have yourself a powerful combination.

That’s it for today.  Do you know of a writing book I should be reading?  Let me know!  I’m always on the hunt for more greens to round out my diet.  Until tomorrow, keep reading, keep writing, and as always – stay sharp!

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On Writing Well: Collage and Blurb

On Writing Well Collage.jpg

Click the image to swing over to Flickr and check it out in high-res.  The collage was made by me and is free to share.  Happy viewing.

 

Another book read and consumed.  My creative whirlpool grows larger and more terrifying each day.  On Writing Well, written by William Zinsser, was well worth the price of admission.  While this a book focuses specifically on non-fiction, you fiction writers can find some great tips in it as well.

The book is broken into four component parts: Principles, Methods, Forms, and Attitudes.

On Writing WellPrinciples and Methods are the two areas, broken into 10 chapters, that every writer (fiction or non) will be able to pull some great fundamentals from.  I found his chapters on simplicity, clutter, and unity to be especially insightful.  Pulling from his own personal experiences (vast) and education he offers some pretty solid nuggets of wisdom.

The next two areas, Forms and Attitudes, focuses more on non-fiction writers.  Given my early years as a journalist I found them to be true, well-written, and something I would use in my day-to-day work if I was still in the game.

On a side note, the Attitudes section does offer some ideas and concepts that cross streams into fiction (unlike Ghostbusters, it’s okay to cross streams in this instance).  These include information on: voice, the enjoyment of the craft, getting to the final product, and writing as well as you can.

Overall, I can confidently say I am happy to own this book.  Its pages are now littered with post-it notes for me to refer to if the need arises.  I would recommend it to anyone who needs to add more greens (non-fiction works to bolster your craft) to your diet.

That’t it for today.  Until tomorrow, keep reading, keep writing, and as always – stay sharp!

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The Kick-Ass Writer Collage: Quotes

The Kick-Ass Writer

A collection of phrases and quotes from the book, The Kick-Ass Writer, written by Chuck Wendig.  High-res version is located here.  Made by me, and free to share.

 

I’ve got a boatload (a cargo-container sized one) of writing to get done tonight and some editing to do for the Brown Pipe Gang (my writer’s group).  So in the interests of providing you all something cool to look at, and meeting my daily posting goals, I tossed together this little quote collage.  All of these quotes come from the book, The Kick-Ass Writer, written by Chuck Wendig.

I just recently finished his book, and it was a nice change of pace from many of the dry “how-to” writing books in my library.  It’s a fast paced, action packed book (which is a strange thing to say about something instructional), and in my opinion – worth reading.  So if you have the itch, scratch it!

In case you missed the link in the photo description, a shiny high-res version of this image is available here.

Did I miss your favorite quote?  Don’t grind my bones into flour to make your bread! Instead, take a breath, and leave a comment.  Until tomorrow, keep reading, keep writing, and as always – stay sharp!

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On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft Takeaways

on writing.jpgI finished Stephen King’s On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft last night while sprawled out on my living room couch.  It was overdue as a number of people had recommended it to me over the years saying things like, “This book was my call to action,” and, “This book really changed the way I work.”  I will let you refer to Good Reads, or Amazon, or whatever for reviews of the book and blow-by-blow evaluations.  What I will provide are some areas where this book impacted me, and how it helped clarify my vision of what a writer is.

A writer is resilient. First off, you should understand the first half of this book is a memoir.  This should seem obvious because it’s in the title, but I was a little surprised when looking at reviews to see how many rated it poorly because it wasn’t simply a, “How To,” book.  The memoir reveals the long path King took to achieve success.  From endless rejection slips, to working various jobs to support his family, King’s path wasn’t easy.  Yes, he did manage to make it – but it didn’t just fall into his lap.

A writer misses every opportunity he/she doesn’t take.  How many times are you willing to fail and keep going?  For King, there wasn’t a limit.  Are you willing to put yourself out there and face constant rejection?  For King, the answer was absolutely.  Knock on enough doors enough times and someone will answer.

locked drawer.jpgA writer knows when to open the door and when to shut it.  While I won’t go into specifics from the book, I will say King explains that he writes the entire first draft without anyone’s input.  Then he puts it away for six weeks and starts the next book.  In those six weeks he has his wife Tabby read it, but not give much in the way in feedback until the end of the six weeks.  I think one of the challenges for new writers in this day and age is not showing your cards too soon, keeping your work under lock and key until the right time.  With blogs like this one, and countless other instant methods, a writer can submit their work before it’s ready.  And that leads straight to the next point.

kitten on the keyboard.jpgA writer is needy.  It’s true, at least it is for me.  I want instant gratification.  When I slave away for three hours, I want to grab someone and say, “Look at this!  Isn’t this amazing!  See what I did there?”  The issue with submitting work that’s not finished is we start writing for those few people who are commenting on it. Suddenly we aren’t writing our story anymore, we are writing with those few people in mind and the story becomes someone else’s.  This neediness is largely due to the fact that..

…A writer needs support.  For King support came in the form of his wife Tabby.  To do this writing thing seriously, parts and pieces of our lives have to be sacrificed to the writing gods.  It makes it much easier to do this when you have the support of someone or something.  While not all of us have a significant other, (I have my awesome wife Heather) support can come in many forms.  It can be a family member, friend, colleague, or even a blog like this.  It’s nice to know when you are in the dumps someone is there to help you shovel the proverbial shit.

reading mem.jpgA writer reads.  According to King, a writer learns what to do and what not to do by reading.  The badly written books remind us of what not to, and the good ones provide us something to aspire towards.  The emotions we internalize when we read translate into what we strive to accomplish when we write.  King provides a few lengthy lists of recommended readings at the end of the book.  I applauded myself for having read a few of them already.

A writer writes.  You don’t say?  It seems simple and we hear endlessly, “just write,” and it will happen for you.  This book, for me, showed how long the path can truly be.  King had been writing since he was a just a little kid and never stopped.  With serious attempts at publication happening very early in his life.  It didn’t just happen overnight, it didn’t just happen over a few years, it took years and years of writing, failing, and writing some more to get to where he was.

This writer now needs to write.  Those are my biggest takeaways from the book.  There is a wealth of information within it I’m not going to even touch.  It ranges from the nuts and bolts of writing (the how-to stuff) to Kings writing and creative processes and how they work for him.  All in all, I’m happy to have read this book and will likely refer to it as I move forward with my own.  If you have read it and feel I missed (or even misrepresented) something, feel free to add your two cents.  As always, keep reading, keep writing, and as always – stay sharp!

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Resist the Urge to Explain (R.U.E.)

book-coverI‘ve recently been reading Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Renni Browne and Dave King.  Let me tell you how hard it is to read a book so insightful it tempts you to stop making forward progress on your novel and start hacking away at what you have already written.  While I shall resist the temptation to dissect my more than 200 pages of work, I will acknowledge how important it is to recognize your pitfalls and address them – in good time, after the first draft, once it’s all on paper (or screen, or notebook, or post-it notes, or whatever).

I have no illusions about my amateurish writing prose.  There is a big difference between editing a book and actually writing one.  I haven’t written stacks of books.  I will be happy to finish my first and start the next.  However, knowing this doesn’t excuse sloppy writing when resources are available to grow your craft.

Some people can read books within their genre and make changes to their own prose and adapt.  I’ve worked with writers who are able to borrow styles and adjust them to make them uniquely theirs.  They have an instinct for it.  I’m a little more analytical.  I want the why and how of what works and what doesn’t.  If you feel you might be this way too, I would encourage you to crack this book open and give it a test drive.

I would especially recommend this book if you edit others people work, are in a writers group, or want to understand more thoroughly why some things work for you and others don’t.  Just another tool for you to add to your belt.  Until tomorrow, keep reading, keep writing, and as always – stay sharp!

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