Monday, December 28, 2015

Writing the Novel From Plot to Print to Pixel - Lawrence Block

As I mentioned yesterday, I've been in the writing business for 39 years now. In the early days, when I was trying to break in and during the first few years after I started selling, I read every book on writing that the Fort Worth Public Library had on its shelves. I don't know if it did any good or not, but I immersed myself in them.

I didn't actually buy many books about writing, though, because we just couldn't afford them. But I subscribed to Writers Digest and The Writer, and I managed to acquire copies of three books on writing that I had for many years and read countless times: THE MYSTERY WRITER'S HANDBOOK, edited by A.S. Burack; WRITING POPULAR FICTION by Dean Koontz; and WRITING THE NOVEL FROM PLOT TO PRINT by Lawrence Block. I also read Block's column every month in Writers Digest.

So it was almost like a visit from an old friend when I began reading the new, expanded, and updated version of Block's book, now called WRITING THE NOVEL FROM PLOT TO PRINT TO PIXEL. Like any old friend you haven't seen for a while, it looks a little different—it's an e-book now, for one thing, at least the edition I read was—and a lot has been added to it.

But the information about how to develop ideas, to create interesting characters, to handle plot problems and all the other nuts and bolts of writing is just as useful as ever. The sections that have been updated the most are the ones that involve e-books and self-publishing, since that's what's changed the most in the publishing business in recent years.

Block talks about several things that I firmly believe: When it comes to writing, there is no right or wrong way to do anything; there is only what works. Every writer has a particular speed to which they're best suited, and the only way to discover that speed is to write a lot until you've figured out what's comfortable and sustainable. You have to be able to sustain that pace, whatever it may be, because to produce good fiction effectively and efficiently, you have to work at it consistently. You sit in a room and type. Sometimes for decades.

Because he doesn't seem capable of writing a sentence that's not entertaining, reading this book is an enjoyable experience in itself, not just for its educational and informational value. Block also provides quite a bit of background on how some of his novels came to be written, and that's always interesting to me. As for the writing, I already do many of the things he suggests, habits that I've developed over the years, and they work for me, I guess, since I've been at it for so long, but I also picked up some ideas about things I'm going to be watching for in my own books. One of the nice things about writing is that you can always get better at it.

WRITING THE NOVEL FROM PLOT TO PRINT TO PIXEL will be available soon. If you're a novice writer or an experienced writer or anywhere in between, or if you're just interested in good fiction and its creation, I highly recommend it.


Charles Gramlich said...

I definitely want to read that one.

Derek Koch said...

Just preordered!