I finished two books this week. The first was the Gotham Writers’ Workshop guide to writing fiction. This book offers advice on the key elements of fiction writing including character, point of view, setting, pacing, description, plot, revisions, and marketing one’s work. It includes exercise prompts throughout, and is set up as a workbook. It’s written by a number of contributing authors, and offers a broader experience than a single author book.
The second book I finished was The Memorable Thoughts of Socrates. This is a book first published before 1850, and puts me more than half way through the 24 tasks of Book Riot’s Read Harder Challenge. (Yes, this may be a cheat as the translation was first published in 1889, but I’m sticking to my story.) I read about two-thirds of this book a while back, but just got around to finishing it off. I can’t say I enjoyed it as much as Plato’s Apology, Crito, and Phaedo, but it’s still full of thought-provoking ideas. (How bad could Socrates be?)
Besides the books I completed, I finished off a couple of chapters [and part 2 (of 4)] of William J. Higginson’s The Haiku Handbook. This book’s subtitle, “How to write, share, and teach haiku,” says it all. If you think that the essential feature of haiku is that it occurs in three lines of 5 – 7- 5 syllables, then you could learn a lot from this book. It turns out that there’s much more to the traditional form (e.g. seasonal focus, nature observation without analysis, etc.) than syllable count. Furthermore, it’s argued that the 5 – 7 -5 isn’t the optimal way of emulating the Japanese form in English (because English syllables average longer than Japanese syllables.)
I resumed reading another book for writers that I started back around the time I began the Gotham Writers’ Workshop book. This one is James Scott Bell’s Elements of Writing Fiction – Conflict and Suspense. I read another book on plotting and structure by Bell that was probably in the same series, and it wasn’t bad. I’m about half way through and found some worthwhile nuggets among a field of self-evident info.
I purchased two books this week–both were on sale. The first was The Backpacker’s Handbook, 4th Ed. As I prepare to do some trekking in the Himalayas this summer, I’m hoping to glean some tips that will save me some pain. I’ve read a number of such books in the past, but it’s been a while and my memory degrades.
The other book was Robert Silverberg’s Kingdoms of the Wall. As Silverberg is an icon of science fiction, but I haven’t read any of his novels, I figured that it would be good to do so–especially on sale.
That’s it for this week.