Writing About Writing About Writing 25

Part 25 of an intermittent series where I read or re-read the writing books on my shelf to see if they’re worth keeping. See previous part here and Index of all books here.

Bit of a mixed bag this time round as I finished off (or not) a few books that I was trying to get finished.

First up was How to Write Readable English

Just what makes English readable – and readable to who? (or is that whom?) is covered in this little book that I found quite interesting. I’d like to revisit it when I do a re-read of Gowers Plain English. This article seems to indicate that the average reading age in the UK is 9 years old. That’s somewhat shocking…

Next was The Writers Mentor:

This book was variable – it sometimes strayed into ‘How to’ but mostly stuck to Writing Life and had an entertaining set of film reviews of films about writing to elucidate and illustrate various points in the book (Like using the Shining to talk about Writers Block). On the whole I liked it and I’ve added it to the shelf for now.

I didn’t finish Deep Writing

The first chapter advises you to simply tell your inner critic to shut up, the second chapter was full of woo – I didn’t proceed any further.

Master Class – “Scenes from a fiction workshop” promised to be interesting – but the writing style grated and the author used the opportunity of running a writing class to play amateur psychologist of his students. Another book I didn’t finish.

Talking about not finishing, Between the Lines was another book full of promise squandered.

I think there’s probably good stuff in here but the layout and the chapter order (for example chapter 4 is epilogues, chapter 10 is prologues) seemed rather random and the stiff style really did nothing for me except induce a stupor such that I found that when I finished a chapter I could recall little of that chapter.

I thought I was in a reading slump so put it down and left it for a month or two but when I went back the same happened. Not sure you should follow any advice from someone who writes such a dull book, BUT, there’s lots (and lots) of rave reviews so YMMV.

And finally also on the discard pile goes The Craft of the Novel by Colin Wilson

which although well-written and of some passing interest fit the mould of Literary Criticism more than help to write and his main points were that writing a novel helps you work out who you are and that novels represent freedom. There I’ve given you the main points so now you don’t have to read it.

This will be my final WAWAW for 2022 – I may, if I can summon the enthusiasm, do a round up of the books I’ve read in ’22. I will definitely be doing a (hopefully) monthly recap of WAWAW in ’23. Somehow I’ve got about 40 unread books on the WAWAW TBR which is, on average, 3 a month to read.

After this year it feels foolish to put forward a concrete plan – but perhaps a pencil sketch –

Starting with books about creativity and inspiration and language, followed by How To’s (including specific genres, e.g. Horror, and specific mediums e.g. Poetry, Scriptwriting). Then books “On Mount Olympus” (philosophy of writing) followed by prompts and finally the business of writing.

I will be doing a monthly email newsletter thingy as well – but WAWAW is likely to stay on the blog. All things being equal I’ll have a book out next year – The Certainty of Dust (provisional launch Summer ’23) as well as an anthology I’ve been editing this year (more on that in a following blog post).

Drop a comment with your favourite writing book or tip here or email me via the Contact page. If you’re a publisher or Indie Author and would like me to review your writing book drop me a line!

Published by suttope

Pete W Sutton is a writer and editor. His two short story collections – A Tiding of Magpies and The Museum for Forgetting – were shortlisted for Best Collection in the British Fantasy Awards in 2017 & 2022 respectively. His novel – Seven Deadly Swords – was published by Grimbold Books. He has edited several short story anthologies and is the editor for the British Fantasy Society Horizons fiction magazine.

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