Honing the Craft


No matter how old I get, I don’t know if I’ll ever get tired of books. Especially books on topics of which I’m very fond.

This past week, my wife ordered me a copy of James Scott Bell’s Plot and Structure. While I don’t think I’ll actually need the book to teach me about structure, I can’t learn enough about plotting and how to make my plots work. I don’t feel plot-y enough as I am right now, as a writer. While a lot of people tell me literary fiction is the only “real” fiction, because it speaks to the “human condition” (whatever that load of crap means), I still tend to believe readers want to be able to follow a story, and not just some growth progress of some character as he learns something lame. But…what do I know?

So, I picked up JSB’s book and started reading it this weekend. I hope to apply some new things I learn (should I learn them) to my second WIP. Yes, I have another book in the midst of being written, right now. Well, not right now, I’m probably at work as you read this working on getting things ready for our new computer system which will make my life a living hell on my day job. But you get the idea.

The story is character-driven. But…wait. Which stories aren’t, again? Oh, that’s right – none of them. ALL stories are driven by characters. So. I want to learn about proper plotting and planning, and apparently, there’s a bit of information in this book about another way to look at the 3-part (4, really) story structure model. Hey, I’m always up for learning a new way to approach that. That’s the good stuff great stories are made of.

I guess I feel there’s no such thing as learning too much about a great thing. The story structure model can permit you to write anyway you like to write – whether you pants-seat your way through or whether you plan your last jot and tittle. I hope to be an expert at this, and when I am, I’m going to try my hand at writing a screen play or script. Should be fun.

So, if anyone wants a taste of that second WIP, you can let me know. I’ve sort of set it aside for now because I’m so focused on the main WIP, but I want to peck at it now and then.

What’s up with you guys? What’ve you got going on? Sound off and let me know!

-JDT-

Copyright 2011 DarcKnyt, All rights reserved

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3 thoughts on “Honing the Craft

  1. “…some growth progress of some character as he learns something lame.” Best definition of lit fic I’ve heard in a while.

    Thank you Charlotte. Coming from someone as facile with the language as you are, that’s high praise indeed. 🙂

  2. I love books on craft. They always give me a burst of inspiration. Reading them was actually what got me writing my first novel. My husband took a creative writing class with the Stafford Institute. And now, I’m the one writing with the potential to make money. The Fire in Fiction by Donald Maass was one of the best books I’ve read of late.

    I’ve been meaning to check out Frey’s “Damn Good Novel” series and see what’s there. I also have a couple of screenwriting books I need to see about. Like you, they offer me a burst of inspiration. I feel I can write anything when I’ve finished reading them. Awesome. 🙂 Good to see you again, too! You’ve been scarce!

  3. In my own person definition, literary fiction is writing that delights in language for its own sake, above and beyond (and sometimes at the expense of) plot and structure. Sometimes it speaks to the human condition, and sometimes it poetically tickles one’s brain. And sometimes it just falls flat on its face and fails. I’ve read my share of literary novels that were confusing, not enjoyable, and left me feeling like I must have missed something. At least a good old-fashioned story always has that story-arc satisfaction built in.

    I think that’s a pretty good definition. I’d argue you can be just as beautiful in what’s referred to derogatorily as “commercial fiction” too though. Still, no one can accuse “commercial fiction” of not having a story, but they’re not all good. I find the high-handed — and high-nosed — “literary” writers are pretty self-inflated, for the most part. At least, that’s how they come across. I wonder why that seems to be?

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