09 November 2015

Notes on Writing


by Jan Grape

I've been reading a couple of books on writing to see if something I read can motivate me. One that honestly touched me is what Stephen King wrote after he was injured so severely when he was hit by a van while he was taking a walk. 

Mr. King had undergone surgeries and was still doing rehab and still in a wheelchair when he thought he might get back to writing. He wasn't really able to sit up much more than forty minutes at any one time without hurting. He states that he wasn't exactly raring to get back to writing, due to his pain level and incapacitation but a little voice in the back of his head kept telling him it was time.

Actually, writing had helped him through tough situations in the past. He wife, Tabby, was the deciding vote. She rigged up a writing area for him in the hall outside the pantry. Told him there were several electrical plug ins there, for his printer, MacBook and a fan. Since it was summer, even in Maine there was a need for a fan.

Tabitha rolled him to his little nest, kissed him on the forehead and left him to his work. That first session lasted an hour and forty minutes. The longest he'd been upright since his accident with Mr. Smith's van. Steve said he was sweaty and tired but happy too because he'd been productive. Thank goodness he realized he needed to keep writing to keep sane. Think of all the great books we would have missed if he had given up then.

Another book I read portions of was How To Write A Mystery by Larry Beinhart. I read a chapter on plotting. My books are usually character driven rather than plot driven. Mr. Beinhart did give me a better understanding of a plot. He divided plots into two categories. The first is as "The Contest" and the second as "The Journey." Yet he says that's not entirely true, because variations, exceptions, shadings, etc. can be involved. 

The Journey is simple enough. The hero has a problem and he keeps plugging away until he comes up with a solution. The Contest is between two opponents...good verses evil. A variation can add other people going after the same prize. 

I enjoy reading books about writing. Maybe they fail to motivate me as I hope but I almost always learn something from them. Sometimes reading fiction can help motivate me.

Have to mention reading our own Melissa Yi's upcoming book, Stockholm Syndrome. Melissa is an Emergency Room Physician in Montreal, Canada. The book is a tension filled medical thriller of two doctors, one crazed gunman and one lady in the late stages labor. Ms Yi's description of the background and the action ring true to me. I'm a retired diagnostic and radiation therapy technician and have watched several live births. The book is due out on December 1st and I highly recommend it.

7 comments:

Leigh Lundin said...

Sounds like a good choice of reads, Jan, especially Melissa's novel!

I recently found myself disappointed by a book on writing. That author, a college instructor, called the reader 'dude', called anything before his time 'old' writing, and recommended breaking rules. Like complete, you know, sentences. Like fragments, good.

If he'd waited a little longer, he could have written his tome in emojis and emoticons.   ;-)

Janice law said...

I am also a big fan of King 's book on writing. One of the best on the evolution of a writer

Robert Lopresti said...

King's On Writing is great. Next month I will be writing here about a book by KEn Rank called From Idea To Story in 90 Seconds.

Eve Fisher said...

Good suggestions, Jan.

Jan Grape said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jan Grape said...

I try to read King's book ON WRITING every so often. I nearly always gain some new insights.
Rob, I'm quite intrigued by that book, From Idea To Story In 90 seconds. My mind work that way too, except my ideas disappear in 90 seconds.

Melodie Campbell said...

Jan, I didn't know that history on Stephen King - thanks for that! My students will be interested.
And I look forward keenly to Rob's post on the 90s seconds writing book. (Just now realizing how that could be misinterpreted by my erotica colleagues)