“Don’t begin at the beginning; first things second. Spring forward in storytelling and fall back with backstory.” ~ Lawrence Block
Telling Lies for Fun & Profit This post might be more of interest to my writer friends or for folks who are thinking of starting a writing career. An author friend recommended a classic book entitled Telling Lies for Fun and Profit: A Manual for Fiction Writers by Lawrence Block. Block, who has written over 150 novels, leads us by the hand through the process of being a novel writer. If you’re looking for advice on plotting, characterization and structure, you may wish to look elsewhere. Telling Lies for Fun and Profit is more a book about the writing life rather than the mechanics of crafting a novel.
The book is a collection of columns that he wrote for various publications and include such themes as: studying the market, discovering your options as a writer, the question of slanting your writing for editors, writing a first novel, writing as an avocation, advice to a college writer, becoming a pro, how to read like a writer, coping with writer’s block, how to draw readers in close, distinguishing between a plot and an idea, point of view, self-discipline, creative procrastination, the trick of not beginning at the beginning, and much, much more.
This book is not only a treasure-house of information, it is an excellent at motivating yourself to write. It gets your juices flowing, your adrenaline pumping and generates enough excitement to get your butt off the couch and into the chair to write. What I really enjoyed about this book is the informal, friendly way he approached the reader. The conversational tone of the book made me feel as though I were reading a letter from an old friend who is offering some practical real-world advice. The book was rife with the author’s stories about his own experiences as a writer, gently guiding us with real-life examples yet urging us at the same time to write in our own unique voice.
Now this is not to say that there isn’t any information about the mechanics of writing for indeed, there is. He does provide practical tips for dialog, the proper use of strong verbs, rewriting, the use of adjectives and adverbs, surprise endings, locations/descriptions and creating plausible characters, just to mention a few; but each topic is peppered with his personal experiences as a writer.
If you are looking for a book about the process of writing, the writer’s life or simply looking for motivation to start or finish your novel, you can’t do much better than Telling Lies for Fun & Profit. Recommended!