Book review: On Writing: A memoir of the craft by Stephen King

I must confess I really like listening to Audiobooks, not only because I can listen to something interesting while driving or riding the bus, but because when it’s well narrated, the voice can give it a very nice plus to the story. Now “On Writing” by Stephen King is a must on audio as well as on paper. How many audiobooks can you get narrated by the same author? Well, the same Stephen King himself reads you this book.  In other words, you can hear all his examples, stories, advices in his own voice like he were telling them straight to you. The effect it produces is that you actually believe Stephen King is talking to you, personally, in a one-on-one meeting. You can even consider this gathering as a “close friends” encounter. His voice sticks to your head. And when you finish the book, you can still hear his voice in your head when you’re writing, it’s unbelievably effective!

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I’ve read a couple of books about writing, from the grammar perspective to the style, from plot building, to character development, to brainstorming, etc.; all of them good, or at least with plenty of advice for beginner writers. But I must be sincere, I cannot remember much of the advice at the moment. I would have to go through them again or see my notes to remember the exact advice. But from Mr. King, I can remember everything, I can hear him still saying “just be honest and say the f*”, making me laugh and making it easier for me to understand the writing tip (I wonder if I am a better learner when some cursing is around, maybe it helps to grab my attention…)

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Besides the excellent tips and clear examples, this book is also about the story of a great career, perseverance, believing, and never giving up. This book is not only for writers, I believe everybody can extract good life advice from it.

Anyway, I would definitely recommend this audiobook to everybody out there who wants to have some sort of writing tutor, a coach, or even a writing friend (I have found myself making references such as “like my good friend Stephen says…”). Stephen King tells you everything you should know about writing and makes sure you do not forget it.

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February is for slowing down…

So February arrived, and I believe January has been one of the longest months ever!

I started 2015 really well, with my goals set in mind all the time. I feel they are already so engraved in me right now, that it would take the end of the world to drag me away from them, which is good.

The problem now, is that I need to slow down. I have managed to cultivate the habit of writing every single day or else I cannot go to sleep.

In this month, I’ve read a couple of books on grammar, styling, and how to write in general. I’m also about to finish revising my first manuscript. Then, the second revision round will come, and maybe my beta readers will have to wait until March to get their hands on the story.

But right now, I found I’m overdoing the process of writing. After I finished the first manuscript, I didn’t get away from it for a considerable amount of time (as everybody suggested) before revising. Now, I find myself confused about my main character, his role, and why he has become boring. Additionally, the story seems a little bit overwritten, too many things going on, too many things to tie, etc. So, it’s time for a break from the manuscript. I’m really looking forward for my next vacation, which will be exactly in ten days. I’m not a beach person, but this time, I’m really looking forward to go, sit, and just relax.

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Image source: http://www.evilenglish.net

Slow down, should be my motto for February now. Sometimes you can be so motivated, so full of energy, that you don’t pause to breath and risk of wearing yourself out.

So February will be the month where I find myself relaxing. I’ve already started yesterday. I’ve been reading so many books on How to Write, that it had been one entire month since I hadn’t read a good novel. Yesterday, I grabbed one book from my shelf that I haven’t been able to put my hands on yet (Exposure by Kathy Reichs, yeah, big fan of Bones over here), and the feeling of getting into a novel, discovering characters, and following the suspense building of the story, had no price. Damn I said to myself, I forgot about this, about why I wanted to be a writer in first place. I have promised to myself, that no matter what the current events in my life are, I should never forget about going without reading a good book.

For those who write, have you ever come to a similar problem like mine?

One tip if you want to improve your writing

I’ve just finished reading “The Elements of Style” by William Strunk Jr. and E.B. White; a classic most people recommended me in writers forums if I wanted to be a writer.

I must confess I felt ashamed when I saw the book had been available all this time in my office. When somebody mentioned that it was a tiny little book, I thought, Wait isn’t the one lying over there? If I had known earlier…

Anyway, I found it brilliant. The book went straight to the point. I can’t believe Mr. Strunk Jr. wrote it so long ago (1919 to be precise) and its contents are still applicable today. Of course, E.B. White updated it later, but still the foundations were already there.

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This is the first “Style” book I actually read from start to end. I have consulted others, but only for specific topics. Now, I’m considering in going over this book again as soon as I enter into the third revision of my novel manuscript; just to make sure I remember all the words that I’m not supposed to use, the ones that are ambiguous, redundant, or just plain bad english. I felt good knowing that I’ve already eliminated most words from my writing, but at the same time, there were still many others in the book I was not aware of, or just some rules I had forgotten.

Like this style book, I still plan to review other books that people have advised me to read. I’m currently with “On Writing” by Stephen King (I’ll let you know my comments when I finish it). I feel like I am acquiring more knowledge and experience. I love the process.

When I started to write, I believed it was all about inspiration and great ideas. A little part is about that, but little. It is more is about hard work and perseverance.

And you, have you read any style/grammar book to improve your skills? I would like to know if you have any books you can recommend me.

Book review – The Art of Racing in the Rain

A couple of months ago, when I started writing, I decided to do a little research on Points of View (POV). You see, when you write, the easiest Point of View to write in, is First Person (any other writers out there that find the opposite, would love to hear it in the comments). First person POV is comfortable; you identify much better with your main character, you are in his/her head, thoughts, feelings, and writing comes easier. HOWEVER, it’s not always the best, it´s limiting. You have to be careful how to handle other scenes where your character is not present (which is difficult). So of course I started to write in Third Person POV, but that’s not the topic of this post.

When I was doing the research, I found a group post discussing this topic and a comment from someone recommending “The Art of Racing in the Rain” by Garth Stein (sorry I can’t remember who commented this, if you’re out there reading this post, please let me know it was you who posted the comment to thank you). The comment suggested that you could also use something original as the POV of a dog; yes you read that well, a dog! which I found hilarious. Being an animal lover, I´ve always been interested in knowing what was going on in my dog’s head whenever she had her puppy eyes directed to me. So I immediately added the suggested book “The Art of Racing in the Rain” by Garth Stein to my Amazon shopping cart, and one month and a half later (yes, it takes that long to reach my country) the book was in my hands.

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Dana, my dog, getting interested in the story

Enzo, the character of this book is brilliant. He’s complex, he has many ideas of his own, and has a deep perspective about life in general. And of course, similar to his owner, the dog is all about racing cars. He’s become an expert due to the hours exposed to watching TV races with his owner.  The story is beautiful, full of ups, downs, and real ordinary life situations, but what is most appealing is Enzo’s insights about everything that happens around him. I won’t give up any spoilers in here of course, but the scene with the Zebra for those ones that have read the book is hilarious.  Of course this book is also sentimental, and lots of tears are expected (yes, I´m one of those that suddenly bursts into crying while holding a book; actually I´m very expressive when I read a book, for instance, if the scene is funny, I’m the weird person sitting next to you laughing out loud in the doctor’s waiting room or any other public place.)

The art of writing books is related to how you engage readers to your characters, how believable and appealing they are. I’ve never imagined a dog would create such a big connection. I loved this book, even if you’re not into racing cars – a topic Enzo is an expert on – you’ll still enjoy the story deeply. I would definitely recommend this book.

Guest Post: Juni Desireé – fellow blogger and writer

When you enter the blogging world, not only you start communicating with the people that follow your blog, but also you start following other blogs you start connecting with. In my blogger journey I had the chance to meet many wonderful people whose blogs I love to read, one of those persons is Juni Desireé, a wonderful blogger and writer who has always struck me with her honest words and her openness to the world. She writes from her heart and she’s very passionate for everything she sets her mind into. I totally recommend following her blogs and checking out this interview for her future projects.
Could you introduce yourself?
My name is Juni Desireé (aka JD). My blog is called JD on a Page (http://jdonapage.wordpress.com). It’s a blog where I share my stories and the lessons I learn, in the hope that it offers something good to people. I also have a writing blog called Write to Wrestle (https://awrestlingwriter.wordpress.com).
I’m currently studying a Master of Writing and Literature and I’m working on a book about what I’ve learnt this year when I moved from Victoria to Queensland.
I love dogs! Everyone should have a dog; they make life better. And my favourite food is fish and chips with tartare sauce.
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How did you start writing?
My first memory of writing is when I was in my first year of primary school. We had to write a diary each week. I loved it and have been writing ever since. I started journal writing when I was eleven when my mum bought me a journal.