Review: Write Good or Die

Write Good or Die
Write Good or Die by Scott Nicholson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A Mixed Bag, but Rightfully So

While it’s my preference to have books on writing be done by one writer with clear examples and exercises, Scott Nicholson has managed to form a collection of essays by successful, charismatic writers, including himself, ranging from personal anecdotes to tips dealing with the art, craft, and business of writing.

I only found one article that was contradictory and not as much in line with the rest of the essay, but other than that, having multiple authors means multiple opinions. It wouldn’t be fair of me to expect them all to mesh, and it’s actually better that they don’t. It allows for multiple opinions and viewpoints in the writing process, which acknowledges that there is no one true way of writing by virtue of there being so many kinds of books being written as we speak. Nicholson acknowledges this at the Afterword, by telling readers to “take the advice that works and leave the rest” that doesn’t, which shows that he’s thought deeply about how this book is presented. And for that, I respect him.

I wouldn’t consider this one a “must-have” if you’re a reader that studies by looking at topics in depth, but I wouldn’t consider it a complete waste of time either. I think Write Good or Die has worthy information about the art, craft, and business of writing to get a beginning writer fired up and informed or an advanced writer thinking of trying something new in the “Art” or “Craft” sections. Though, I can see this being geared more toward the unpublished, beginning writer than anyone else. Also, last I checked, the Kindle version is free, so if you get it, you have nothing but time to lose, and bits of tips and information to gain.

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“Apple Crisp, Train Station” Dream

I had another dream.

Again.

What the heck? Just months before, I could barely remember the dreams I had.  Now I’m having them all over the place.

Is it because I’m sleeping later at night? Because I’m not waking up to an alarm, but letting my body wake up naturally in the clutches of a dream?

If so, that seems quite dangerous.  But it still seems interesting.  At least this will help me practice my description skills.

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The Salon Dream

I had another one of those weird dreams again.

The earliest point in the dream that I can remember started as I was going down an elevator at a college campus.  I was running late for some reason, like I was maybe on a tour, and the tour ended before I could get back home.  And the reason I needed to get back home was so I could wash my hair and style it, but I don’t know for what.

But I decided that on the way back home, I didn’t have time to do it myself, so I went to a salon instead.  They sat my down, had sunflower leave-in conditioner in a tube, and colorful mirrors and clips everywhere.  And what was the most interesting art was that I had hair.  Hair much longer than it is currently.  Hair that, once washed and raked with a leave-in by the stylists, looked stringy, clumpy, and straight, rather than curly and bouncy.

I brought out the checkbook.  The dream was going somewhat nicely, even though I could see in the mirror that my hair wasn’t the way I wanted it to be.  And then the stylist woman told me the price.

“Fifty-thousand dollars.”

My pen froze above my checkbook.  I looked at the blonde woman straight in the eye.  “No way.”

Then the other stylists surrounded me.

“I can understand fifty dollars,” I told them, “but fifty thousand? For a styling job that’s not even that good? For something that I could have very well done by myself at home? No.  I won’t pay.”

Luckily, I woke up before things at the dream salon could get any worse.

Even with my adamant words, my chest still felt tight.  I knew I was in the wrong.  I should have asked them what the price was before I even got into the store, but it was a dream.  I kind of let things happen on their own, because I didn’t think it would turn into something so outrageous.  I was sitting there, face with a $50,000-check to write, or risk going to prison in my dream.  I felt wronged, and I knew I was wronged by them with their horrible business practices, but part of that was on me for not being careful enough, and that felt the worst.

That’s the most awful feeling in the world for me–when I make a mistake that I could have thoroughly avoided if I were just more careful, and not let myself get prone to accidents.  But even more intriguing to me is that I can’t seem to escape not being on my toes, even in my dreams.

What’s that about?

Review: Techniques of the Selling Writer

Techniques of the Selling Writer
Techniques of the Selling Writer by Dwight V. Swain
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Rarely have I ever had a book speak to me as a writer. And I mean, speak to me—so loudly, clearly, and simply that I wonder if Dwight V. Swain is some sage from a thousand years ago and has seen my past writing experiences and current struggles. While I know that’s not the case, as the late author passed some two years before I was born, it is clear in his writing that he has taught many students and has come across every likely pitfall of a writer, only to show them what to avoid and how to shine.

Swain isn’t primarily concerned with “literary” fiction that tends to emphasize language rather than content. Rather, Techniques of the Selling Writer discusses fiction at its basic, universal core for all readers: Readers read to feel. Yes, they read to escape and to explore, but what is it that they are searching for midst this escape from reality?

Feeling. Human emotion. Anything that reaffirms their existence.

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You know you’re a writer when…

I’ve been working on my novel as of late, and… let’s just say, there have been ups and downs in trying to write its new 2.0 rough draft.  Various ups and downs.  Many of which have me wondering if somewhere down the line I’ve dug a hole in my sleep and I’m finding out just now that I needed to get myself out of it. Continue reading