OK, this post is about writing. More specifically it is about the books writers put out concerning the craft. It seems that sooner or later every writer puts out a little book about writing. This dates at least as far back as 1935 when the excellent writer, E.B. White teamed up with his old college English professor, William Strunk, to produce the elements of style. This book has become a standard on the mechanics on how to write. Every writer should have a copy to refer to from time to time and while your at it you might as well pick up a copy of the witty “Spunk and Bite”, a contemporary and irreverent offshoot written by the clever Arthur Plotnick.
Since The Elements of Style came out ( and probably before 1935 as well) writers have been putting out their own guides to creativity and writing skills. For some it seems like a mandatory mid-career move and some of the results have been quite enjoyable to read. I have very much enjoyed The Zen of Writing by Ray Bradbury, Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg and How To Write Science Fiction and Fantasy by Orson Scott Card. And don’t forget the very popular “Eats Shoots and Leaves by Lynne Truss. Whoever thought that a book about punctuation would be so fun to read. (Fortunately, I have millions of people who bought the book to back me up on this claim)
Then there is the bizarre “On Writing” by Stephen King, who after creating over half his manuscript gets run over by a van, while walking near his summer home in western Maine. So, here we have a book about writing that takes a strange and gruesome twist during the creation process and all the unfortunate details of Mr. King’s near death experience become part of the literary endeavor. Maybe fact is stranger than fiction after all.
Recently, while strolling through Borders, I came across a book in the discount bin about “Inspired Creative Writing”, ( a cover shot is provided without permission, I hope the author doesn’t mind)by Alexander Gordon Smith, who is for me an unknown English writer. Nonetheless, he must be popular in the British Isles, for he has several novels and many short-stories to his credit. He is also the author of a first-rate book about writing. If you come across a copy, check it out, for it is very well organized and thought out. In this 230 page treatise about writing, Alexander covers the gamut from writing fiction to poetry and he even discusses screen writing, a serious endeavor that any writer with at least half a brain should avoid like the plague. All in all, it is my favorite writing book and you should check it out if you have a chance. It even has nifty little pictures at the beginning of each chapter to add insight and humor to the subject.