Tuesday, 23 September 2008

How to write fiction

This is a series of booklets published with The Guardian newspaper every day this week. It's also available online. Tutorials, feature articles, exercises and advice from writers including Robert Harris, Kate Pullinger, Stephen King and George Saunders. Well worth a look.

Other booklets in the series include How to write Poetry (Wendy Cope) and How to write Scripts & Screenplays (Ronald Harwood). A complete menu can be found here.

"Plot is the good writer's last resort and the dullard's first choice." Stephen King

11 comments:

Sara said...

I just read the King comment, literally 3 minutes ago. It has made me feel better about my own methods! I thought the fiction booklet was chock full of sense actually.

Sarah Hilary said...

Yes I found much more in that first booklet than I expected. By which I mean I've read so many of these "how to write" books that I doubted there was anything new to be found - but there was. Glad you thought so too, Sara.

Nik's Blog said...

That King quote is brilliant!

Nik

Sarah Hilary said...

Isn't it? As someone who struggles with plot I decided I liked it very much. *g*

Nik's Blog said...

Ditto! ;)

Gay Degani said...

Thanks Sarah for posting that series of articles. Here's my favorite quote:

"Have courage, and remember the words of my third authority, Philip Roth, in 2003. "Over the years," he observed, looking back on his career on his 70th birthday, "what you develop is a tolerance for your own crudeness. And patience with your own crap, really. Belief in your crap, which is just 'stay with your crap and it will get better, and come back every day and keep going'."

It's all about believing crap can become non-crap with a little work.

Sarah Hilary said...

Gay, you picked my favourite bit from the booklet. Glad you liked it to.

Tania Hershman said...

This is all helpful, I love that Philip Roth quote, nothing like straight talking, eh! I saw the scriptwriting booklet yesterday and thought I'd missed the others, thanks so much Sarah for pointing to them online too. I love that "plot" quote, makes me feel better too.

Sarah Hilary said...

Hi Tania! It was so lovely to see you yesterday. How was the reading? Milly was fast asleep by the time I got home...

Vanessa Gebbie said...

Brilliant quotes. I am slowly joining the dullard school, though, with this bleedin novel thing.

Lovely to see you yesterday Sarah. brilliant supper! And yes, the readings were very good. A lot of us went off to the pub afterwards. Not T sadly, she was tired out. And had her new bras to try on....

Sarah Hilary said...

I'm the same, V, plodding with the plot. Having the agent tell me my story needed "less sequins, more scaffolding" (she said that would make her sound very dull but I think she's absolutely right - the reader needs a reason to keep moving through the story and nice words aren't enough in something of novel-length). That said, I think your short stories are some of the best plotted that I've read, whether by accident or design. Things happen. They happen in the right order. That's plot AND structure, nailed. A friend once said to me, when I was first fretting about not being able to write like this: "What's plot anyway? It's just a series of coat-hangers, one after the other." That helped. I think the terrors start when we let ourselves see plot as this monster of impossible proportions. It's just coat hangers!