May 2, 2011

Writer Ramblings: A Learning Experience

I’m an open minded person; I pride myself in that, which is why I torture myself by pushing through books or movies that I have zero interest in early on. Either they start bad, or the entire production is just blatantly terrible. I just finished an Omnibus Sci-Fi trilogy. It was 775 pages or so and I have to say, it should have been 250. In fact the entire first book should have been 50 pages. But I’m not going to name the author or the book, other than that person is nobody I have a connection to on Facebook, Twitter or otherwise and didn't ask for my review, so I won't name names. I couldn’t put my finger on what I didn’t like for a long while other than I was impatient with it. It had great detailed character development; rich world descriptions that made me feel like I was actually in the story. The story stuck to its theme and plot very well, too. The problem seemed to be that the story dragged on forever.

It wasn’t until I began reading another book I stumbled on that I thought might help me fix some issues I was having with my rough draft, some plot alteration, some adjustments to character development. It also allowed me to grind through the Omnibus and use it as a learning tool of what not to do when I write. The helpful book is called:
“How Not To Write A Book” by Howard Mittelmark and Sandra Newman.

I have to say that the book was a big eye opener for me. Their tips on how to write dialogue, humor and romance made me confident I was on the right track with those things. What I discovered was that I have a lot of extra material as far as character background and development, and even more missing material on plot complexity and theme. Good news to me. I’m short on my word count goal and writing the last page of the rough draft. So now I dive into doing my first rewrite after completing both books and a more enlightened mind on how to go about making the changes I wanted to make, but was a little stumped on how.

I highly recommend the book to any writer, either if you’re a new writer and need some tips, or a published and experienced writer just for the humorous writing. It’s a very funny book that had me giggling to myself pretty much the whole time. If you are not a writer, then I don’t recommend it so much; my wife usually just looked at me funny when I would share a snippet of it that I thought was hilarious. I guess it’s one of those “You have to be a writer to get the humor.”

As far as the anonymous trilogy I read, let’s just say, it fell short on several things that were pointed out as big no-no’s in “How Now To Write A Novel.” Such as events that took place and never really affected the plot or added depth or dialogue confusion. I.E.: Two characters having conversation with no identifying markers for more than a page. Just as Howard and Sandra pointed out in their book, this will cause readers to go back and count lines to figure out who’s saying what. I did this several times and was becoming frustrated by it. And there were events of people stumbling across barren lands and nothing ever happening, or riding in space with nothing but descriptions of suns. Which is a shame, because the anonymous writer was very good at description and detail, but I will probably never drop everything to read the authors other novels because I am terrified of reading another book detailing the texture of the sand the character is laying face first in for an entire 20 page chapter. If only that author had found the book I found, maybe it would have made a difference. All in all though, that book was published traditionally and was one series in many by this same author. That puzzles me.

Does anyone have any other recommendations for books for writers?


  1. Thanks for the plug!

    Dungeons & Dragons, hm? I knew you were an okay guy. :P

    Years ago, I entered a TSR (maybe it was Wizards of the Coast by then) contest to win a writing contract for a Forgotten Realms trilogy. I didn't win, but I forgive them (magnanimous of me, yes?). Looking back, I think I'd go crazy if I had to stick to writing stories that fit their world and rules.

  2. I started writing a submission for Wizards of the Coast last October. After hitting 10,000 words I decided I didn't want anyone directing my creative thought. So here I am going Indie. I reworked that submission into a piece for a later novel.