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text 2018-04-01 00:35
Just some highlights - I'll add to this post as I go along.
On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft - Stephen King

I read this book a year or two ago, and I really don't understand why it wasn't showing up on my BL list. But it wasn't, and now it is.

 

There are a lot of funny personal moments, but the insights on writing are important -- for writers and for readers.  I think we have a problem with bad writing these days, but maybe it's because we don't have enough good readers.

 

So here's this:

 

Gould [King's editor at the local newspaper] said something else that was interesting on the day I turned in my first two pieces: write with the door closed, rewrite with the door open. Your stuff starts out being just for you, in other words, but then it goes out. Once you know what the story is and get it right—as right as you can, anyway—it belongs to anyone who wants to read it. Or criticize it. If you’re very lucky (this is my idea, not John Gould’s, but I believe he would have subscribed to the notion), more will want to do the former than the latter.

King, Stephen. On Writing: A Memoir Of The Craft (pp. 57-58). Scribner. Kindle Edition.  (My emphasis.)

The most important is that the writer’s original perception of a character or characters may be as erroneous as the reader’s. Running a close second was the realization that stopping a piece of work just because it’s hard, either emotionally or imaginatively, is a bad idea. Sometimes you have to go on when you don’t feel like it, and sometimes you’re doing good work when it feels like all you’re managing is to shovel shit from a sitting position.

King, Stephen. On Writing: A Memoir Of The Craft (pp. 77-78). Scribner. Kindle Edition.

 

This next one I would put right up close to Josh Olson's as a rebuke to those who think they can get away with . . . anything.  Writing is hard, in the sense that it requires a commitment not just to doing it but to doing it well.

You can approach the act of writing with nervousness, excitement, hopefulness, or even despair—the sense that you can never completely put on the page what’s in your mind and heart. You can come to the act with your fists clenched and your eyes narrowed, ready to kick ass and take down names. You can come to it because you want a girl to marry you or because you want to change the world. Come to it any way but lightly. Let me say it again: you must not come lightly to the blank page.

I’m not asking you to come reverently or unquestioningly; I’m not asking you to be politically correct or cast aside your sense of humor (please God you have one). This isn’t a popularity contest, it’s not the moral Olympics, and it’s not church. But it’s writing, damn it, not washing the car or putting on eyeliner. If you can take it seriously, we can do business. If you can’t or won’t, it’s time for you to close the book and do something else.

Wash the car, maybe



King, Stephen. On Writing: A Memoir Of The Craft (p. 106-107). Scribner. Kindle Edition.  (Emphasis King's.)

 

King isn't perfect, and if he took the following information from The Elements of Style, then Strunk got it wrong, too.

 

Verbs come in two types, active and passive. With an active verb, the subject of the sentence is doing something. With a passive verb, something is being done to the subject of the sentence. The subject is just letting it happen. You should avoid the passive tense. I’m not the only one who says so; you can find the same advice in The Elements of Style.

King, Stephen. On Writing: A Memoir Of The Craft (p. 122). Scribner. Kindle Edition.

 

Active and passive are not tenses; they are voices.  Tenses are things like present, past, future perfect, conditional present progressive.

 

Active voice:  I caught the ball.

Passive voice: The ball was caught by me.

 

Active voice: The managing editor runs the paper.

Passive voice: The paper is run by the managing editor.

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text 2018-04-01 00:23
I don't know why this wasn't on my BL shelves
On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft - Stephen King

Stephen King highly recommends Strunk & White's Elements of Style.  I abhor it.

 

Except for that, this is pretty much the single best book on writing style I can recommend.

 

Chris Vogler's The Writer's Journey remains hands-down the best for story-telling.

 

I'll get to a review later.

 

 

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text 2018-01-02 22:11
Was this really the beginning? No!
The Flame and the Flower - Kathleen E. Woodiwiss

Kathleen E. Woodiwiss's The Flame and the Flower began the flood of paperback historical romances written by and for women readers in 1972, but it wasn't the first historical romance by any means.

 

We can go back to the swashbucklers of the 19th and early 20th centuries, by Dumas and Hugo and Sabatini, as well as the historical adventures of the mid-20th century by Yerby and Shellabarger and others.  These were the books I and my fellow historical romance writers of the 1980s had grown up reading.  We watched the movies of Errol Flynn and Tyrone Power, Cornel Wilde and Burt Lancaster.  We weren't into the polite comedies of manners from Georgette Heyer the way we were into the swords and daggers of Edison Marshall.

 

As I detailed in my analysis of Leslie Turner White's Lord Johnnie, there was a subtle feminism in many of these pre-Woodiwiss novels.  Not in all of them, of course, but it's important to remember that women read these books, too, and they watched the movies that were made from them in the 1930s, 1940s, and on.  The books, and the authors, had to keep those women in mind.

 

It was on that foundation that Kathleen Woodiwiss built, to be followed by Rosemary Rogers, Laurie McBain, Jude Deveraux, Rebecca Brandewyne, Julie Garwood, Candace Camp, LaVyrle Spencer, Jo Beverley, Julia Quinn, and so many more.

 

In the spring of 2000, I wrote my undergraduate honors thesis at Arizona State University West on the feminist potential in romance novels.  Eventually I published a digital edition on Amazon, not expecting very much but just to have it easily available.

 

 

 

The changes that have occurred in the romance fiction world since 2000 really warrant another examination of the causes and effects, the actions and reactions.  I stated at the beginning of Half Heaven, Half Heartache that I wasn't going to look at gay and lesbian romances because my focus was on the straight romance and how it affected as well as mirrored real life straight romance.  Seventeen years later, however, there is now a valid and valuable interaction.  The same is true of romances featuring people of color, interracial romances, and all the other "new" forms of romantic fiction, both historical and contemporary, paranormal and fantasy.

 

My collection of romance novels has grown since 2000, and there has been more non-fiction about romance fiction written and published.  Imagine what I could do with that.

 

Watch this space.

 

 

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review 2017-12-09 15:33
Finishing tonight
A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens

Since this is a re-read, I don't need to write a new review. My old one can be found here:

http://loram.booklikes.com/post/1506753/a-christmas-carol

 

I'll be finishing it again tonight so might as well post now and save myself the trouble tomorrow.

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review 2017-11-18 18:59
Where we were, and where we still are
Where the Girls Are: Growing Up Female with the Mass Media - Susan J. Douglas

This is another of those 10-star books.

 

My original review, on the transfer from GR, is here.  But it's not much.

 

When I went back to college in August of 1998, this was one of the texts for one of my classes.  According to the syllabus, we were assigned to read a couple of chapters.  Something about the book grabbed my attention, however, and I began to read it from the beginning.

 

Maybe it was the picture on the cover.  I remembered going to see the movie Where the Boys Are and I remembered being confused by it at the time.  But as soon as I started reading Susan J. Douglas's book, I was hooked.  I read almost non-stop.

 

 

Douglas is a bit younger than I, just as Hillary Rodham is a bit older.  We all grew up in that same era, however, and this was our reality.

 

I know where I was in, say, 1964, and I still have the diaries written in spiral notebooks to back me up.  I was never a cheerleader, and couldn't afford the latest fashions, but I absolutely did sleep on my face when my hair was in rollers.

 

My acquaintances today who are half a generation -- ten years, roughly -- older than I didn't go through the maelstrom we boomers did.  Virtually all of them were married and raising children by the time The Sixties hit.  They had come of age before the explosion of television, of rock 'n' roll, of The Pill. 

 

My acquaintances today who are half a generation -- ten years, roughly -- younger than I reaped the benefits of the maelstrom.  They came of age when birth control was available and acceptable, when the idea of having a career instead of a family was not shocking.

 

But there is still something somehow unique about those of us born in that relatively narrow window of (roughly) 1946 to 1956, and Susan J. Douglas captures it perfectly.

 

We were the first generation raised on television, and it had a profound effect on us.  Not just the comedy shows like I Love Lucy (which I personally hated because I thought Lucy was so fucking stupid) that seemed to remain a hallmark of the so-called Golden Age, but the news shows that brought events into the living room, everything from Hollywood fires to political campaigns to The War.  Television also gave us commercials that made us much more consumerist than adults who had read advertisements in newspapers and magazines.  Sponsors of children's shows could target us so much younger, and for so many more years.

 

I wrote in my earlier review that I needed then to reread the book.  I've reread parts of it many times over the years, and maybe a full reread is in order.  Then again, I actually lived through those times.  I still have the diaries, though there are few extant photos of the teen-aged me.  (And yes, the diarist was obsessed with boys and sex.)

 

Maybe that's why I tend to be a little less of an absolutist when it comes to girls and women and boys and men and sex.  Oh, not about whether no means no.  It does, and that is an absolute, even if it wasn't always taken that way.  Nor do I deny that there is such a thing as rape culture; there is, and it isn't yet going away.  But the ambiguities and double standards that girls grew up with in the 1950s and 1960s were the same ambiguities and double standards that boys grew up with then and which still pervade our culture to this day.

 

We all got mixed messages.  Some of us tried to sort them out.  But none of us escaped the culture that was all around us, and few of us were ever given the tools to analyze it, deconstruct it, resist it.  Is it worse today?  Probably.  And it's not going to get better if we don't understand how we got where we are today.  This book is a good starting point.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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