Telling Lies

Contest of the month: the ASC Awards

On Mike’s advice I read Telling Lies for Fun and Profit: A Manual for Fiction Writers by Lawrence Block. I think I’ve read them all now, because none of his advice sounded new or intriguing. Since the book is a collection of Writer’s Digest columns, it didn’t exactly flow or cohere like other writing books I’ve read (not that there have been that many). It’s definitely a genre-writing sort of a book - not that there’s anything wrong with that - by an author who openly confesses to cranking out pulp erotica for the money. I think it covered all the bases, but the overall tone of the book, IMHO, was one of Orson Scott Card as played by Polonius.

I’ve gotten to the point where I’ve heard all the advice before, so it’s hard for me to imagine how other writers can be surprised by, for example, the usual and customary advice against overuse of adjectives and adverbs.

2 Responses to “Telling Lies”

  1. mike hollihan Says:

    Yeah, once you’ve read one or two books, they’re all the same, mostly. Says the guy who has read more than a dozen or so. Two that stand out:

    “Becoming a Writer” by Dorothea Brande. Written in 1934, it’s hilariously dated in spots , but she delves into “state of mind” for a writer in an interesting way.

    “The Writer’s Journey” by Christopher Vogel. Vogel was a script reader for a major studio. He developed an outline for what he looked for in a good script that got circulated around Hollywood. He turned it into the book. It’s based on Joseph Campbell’s “Hero With A Thousand Faces” and it’s very schematic and predetermined. (Hero gets the Call. Hero refuses the Call. Hero meets the wizard. Etc.) However, once you read it and see it applied to examples from Hollywood, you’ll never be able to enjoy Hollywood blockbusters again. You’ll see the steps of his outline in nearly every movie! It’s a sad indictment of Hollywood.

    On the other hand, it’s a great template for crafting outlines for your own work and eminently adaptable to fiction. I started writing “Five Scorpions” before I read this and got bogged down in the plot and keeping track of all the elements. (The story is nearly novel length.) After reading Vogel, I saw instantly how to “fix” it and what to do. So, it might help….

  2. Jemima Says:

    Thanks - I’ll keep an eye out for Vogel, at least.