Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Reading on Writing. Reading. Writing. All the same activity?

Maybe I just miss school. Or, now that I'm teaching some, I realize (with humility) how much more there is to learn. Either way, I've been spending time with a few craft books lately, culling bits here and pieces there. The first one's newer, the rest have been around--with good reason.

The Sound on the Page by Ben Yagoda, subtitle: Great writers talk about style and voice in writing. Those two huge (and largely undefinable) factors separating good writing from great writing - style and voice - are addressed by Yagoda and more than a dozen others.

Creating Character Emotions by Ann Hood, subtitle: Writing compelling, fresh approaches that express your characters' true feelings. Though aimed primarily at fiction writers, equally necessary for the nonfiction writer -- and especially the essay writer -- who often relies too heavily on explaining emotions, rather than illustrating them. Making myself do the end-of-chapter exercises.

Telling True Stories, edited by Mark Kramer and Wendy Call, subtitle: A nonfiction writers' guide from the Neiman Foundation at Harvard University. Gold from many top tier literary journalists. (And though I can't, how I wish I could attend the 2009 Neiman Conference on Narrative Journalism.)

Writing Creative Nonfiction, edited by Carolyn Forche and Philip Gerard, subtitle: Instruction and insights from the teachers of the Associated Writing Programs. Gems. Excellently drawn, clear, concise. And killer exercises throughout.

That's it. Try one, if you haven't. And let me know what you're reading, too.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Lisa. I've got the last two on my To Read stack, but will pick up the others. I'm currently reading Arthur Plotnik's Spunk & Bite, have you read it? It's a fun and useful guide to what makes snappy writing. I recommend it.