Must Read Monday: Stein on Writing

“The novelist is like a conductor of an orchestra, his back to the audience, his face invisible, summoning the experience of music for the people he cannot see.”

Today’s book is recommended for writers or anyone who is interested in learning the craft of writing.

Yes, it is a learned craft. Talent is necessary, but it isn’t enough. I’d like to think I have talent, and like most inspirational writers, I feel writing is a call on my life. I still need to learn and I’m glad I picked this book up at the CWG conference.

 Sol Stein is a genius. You can read about him here. I found something to highlight on every page. I found some things that I do well and some things I need to work on to make my writing tighter and more suspenseful.

Here’s a little bit about the book, taken from his website. I encourage you to read many books on the craft if you are writing. We can never stop learning or growing, and in the end it benefits our readers–who we’re writing for! They deserve our best!

“Whether you are an accomplished professional, a novelist, story writer, or a writer of nonfiction, you will find a wealth of immediately useful guidance not available anywhere else. As Sol Stein explains, “This is a not a book of theory. It is a book of usable solutions; how to fix writing that is flawed, how to improve writing that is good, how to create interesting writing in the first place.”

You will find one of the great unspoken secrets of craftsmanship in Chapter 5, called “Markers: The Key to Swift Characterization.” In Chapter 7, Stein reveals for the first time in print the system for creating instant conflict developed in the Playwrights Group of the Actors Studio, of which he was a founder. In “Secrets of Good Dialogue,” Stein gives you usable techniques that not only make verbal exchanges exciting but that move the story forward immediately. You won’t have to struggle with flashbacks or background material after you’ve read Chapter 14, which shows you how to bring background into the foreground.

Writers of both fiction and nonfiction will relish the amphetamines for speeding up pace, and the many ways to liposuction flab, as well as how to tap originality and recognize what successful titles have in common. Nonfiction writers will find a passport to the new revolution in journalism and a guide to using the techniques of fiction to enhance nonfiction. You’ll discover literary values that enhance writing, providing depth and resonance. In Chapters 32 and 33 you will learn why revising by starting at page one can be a serious mistake, and how to revise without growing cold on your manuscript.”

What books have you read and recommend about the craft of writing?