Calling All Newbies…and not so Newbies

Last weekend I met two “new” writers, two women who share common interests and goals with the rest of our chapter members. These ladies don’t just want to read romance, they want to write it. I didn’t get the chance to visit with each one as much as I would like. But one of the aspiring writers made the comment that she had so much to learn, and that stuck with me throughout the week. I wanted to tell her that’s true for all of us. No matter how long we’ve been writing, there’s still something to be learned about our craft.

For the new and not so new writer out there, I’d like to recommend a book I’ve found to be invaluable: Elements of Fiction Writing: Character and Viewpoint by Orson Scott Card. It’s published by Writer’s Digest Books, and I picked it up at Barnes and Nobles. It’s a short book, only about 172 pages, but it’s packed with useful information and terms that every fiction writer, regardless of genre, must understand in order to write well. For example, Chapter Fifteen covers “showing vs. telling” and gives some great examples to illustrate the difference. Chapter Seven describes techniques used to draw an emotional response from the reader. I especially like Chapter Two, which discusses the three questions readers ask:

“So What?”
“Oh, Yeah?”
And “Huh?”

Writers write because we believe we have something to say, a story to share that says something about the world we live in and about the human condition. As Card states, “If your fictional vision was a good and truthful one, your characters will help your readers understand their families, their friends, their enemies, and the countless mysterious and dangerous strangers who will touch their lives, powerfully and irresistibly.”

I’m sure some of you have other resources you can recommend. Care to share?


9 thoughts on “Calling All Newbies…and not so Newbies

  1. Hi-

    To be perfectly honest, I haven’t invested in one single resource for writing. I am so overwhelmed by the gargantuan task of putting words to paper and all the resources available, I wasn’t sure which reads would be worth the money.

    I saw a bunch of resources on the table at the last meeting and my hands ached to take one or two home with me to study.

    I’ll definitely pick up the two books listed here already and I’ll check back to see what others are added.

    I need all the help I can get.


  2. Wow! This is exactly the kind of post I needed. I don’t want to waste money on something that isn’t informative so keep the suggestions coming. Thanks!

  3. On top of what has already been mentioned, I love FICTION IS FOLKS, HOW TO CREATE UNFORGETTABLE CAHRACTERS by Robert Newton Peck. Unfortunately, the book is out of print but you might be able to find it on Amazon. I know it’s really old, but it’s still a good resource.

    Don’t forget Strunk and White, THE ELEMENTS OF STYLE.

  4. RD:

    Don’t invest yet. Just ask around the other member or use the chapter library. And feel free to ask questions. That’s really how everyone learns the most…asking for help and asking questions. We’re your best resource.

    And Meg is correct. The chapter critique group can be a great help too.

  5. Linda,

    Thanks. I’ve never heard of FICTION IS FOLKS, HOW TO CREATE UNFORGETTABLE CAHRACTERS by Robert Newton Peck. I’ll have to see if I can find it through ebay or something.

    You also reminded me of Tami Cowden’s book, “The Complete Writer’s Guide to Heros & Heroines.” This is a great book that covers 16 mast archetypes. Also a must have.

  6. I’m afraid I don’t have the mindset to make the best use of writing books. I’m not that kind of learner. (I’m not an audial learner either. Wonder what the heck kind of learner I am???) But RWI has a great bunch of books in their library, including (a plug for my first-ever and longest editor) ROMANCE WRITING FOR DUMMIES by Leslie Wainger. She’s been such a fixture in the romance world for so long that her book is well worth a read.

  7. Lynn,

    What a great reminder to everyone. We all have books on our shelves that inspired us or helped us at some point in time.

    My two are “Save The Cat” (check with RWI for a meeting covering that book) and “Structuring the Novel” by Fitzgerald.

    P.S. I have a copy of “Fiction is Foks” if you want to borrow it.

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