Last Updated on: June 4th, 2017
Every writer of fiction should read read read. Good and bad, classics and the latest best-seller in your preferred category. I hesitate to call it ‘genre’. I deplore the concept of ‘genre’. This word signifies that the book must conform to a preconceived format aimed at a specific reader. Of course ‘genre’ is necessary these days. And of course the writer who wants above all to be published will write in a favorite genre. It seems to me that the most popular genres are fantasy (witches, werewolves, parallel worlds etc), science-fiction, Romance (with a capital R), sex sex sex (i.e. erotica), adventure, crime/murder (is there any crime other than murder in fiction?), mystery, and the new world of Middle-East espionage. Bottom of the popular heap is probably Historical – which, of course, is what I write.
Back to reading.
There are some amazing books out there that are probably not required reading in any formal literature course. I plan to look into my own library for some very useful titles. ALL of these books are instructive in creating effective, dramatic fiction. Some of them will show you how. Some will show you how NOT.
There was never a carpenter who showed up to work without his tool kit. We are writers. Words are our nails. Grammar is our tool kit. Ladies and gentlemen, before you can write you really MUST know and thoroughly understand English grammar. Only then should you venture to break the rules of grammar for dramatic effect.
What is the difference between your and you’re, between its and it’s, between there and their? Many writers know the differences, but get careless and don’t correct themselves. Many writers do not seem to know or care, they feel that all they have to do is get it on the page and either their magical editor will fix it or the reader won’t notice. One small grammatical error won’t kill your manuscript. The second will.
An acquisitions editor will not likely buy the manuscript with even a few grammatical errors. This spells ‘amateur’. Non-professional. Not paid. Anyway, it should be a matter of your own professional pride. Please notice that I have written this in a fairly chatty, personal style. You will not find grammatical errors here. It’s become second nature to me. Automatic. No thought necessary. Both of these two non-sentences are called fragments. Although grammatically incorrect, they are deliberately, dramatically effective.
The Book I recommend ~ The Elements of Style; by Strunk and White.
B. How to Write a Novel
To write a novel you really ought to have an idea HOW. It may be just words strung together, but there are effective ways and ineffective ways. It’s sort of like architecture. You can have a lifetime of experience walking in and out of beautiful buildings, but could you build a skyscraper? The novel is the skyscraper of words.
Below is one of the most comprehensive books available on writing novels. It is also exceptionally inspirational. Five hundred pages thick, this book covers every aspect of novel writing, editing, preparing for publication, query letters, and much much more. The articles are written by brilliant experts in their individual fields.
The Complete Handbook of Novel Writing; by the Editors of Writer’s Digest.
Lyn Alexander grew up in Ottawa during the war years and joined the Royal Canadian Air Force directly out of high school. She later resigned her officer’s commission to study veterinary medicine at the Ontario Veterinary College in Guelph. She has travelled much of western Europe, the USA, and most of Canada, and speaks three foreign languages badly (her words, not mine!). Now retired from her small animal veterinary practice, Lyn is now writing fiction any time she feels the urge. Visit her at http://lynalexander.com/.
Comments, anyone? Share your thoughts, please! Lyn has assured me that she will respond to your comments! So please don’t be shy!