Tuesday 21 July 2015

Reading Challenge 2015 - Reading about Writing

On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft - Stephen King
First published October 2000
Challenges covered:
    - Non-fiction
    - Unread book by loved author
    - Based on a true story
    - Memoir

This is a book I've been meaning to read for years. My brother leant it to me at the same time as The Dark Tower series and I found it as interesting and helpful as I'd hoped. Inevitably, the focus was American English and I would love to read a similarly accessible and honest book about writing on British English. However, a lot of what he says applies across language. I found it good motivation to read - it made me want to write! There were a few comments I wanted to make on it. King claims many people think if you're a mediocre writer you can never become a good reader but I've never heard that said and, like King, would argue that it absolutely isn't true. To improve your writing, like anything, you need to practice, a lot. You need to study methods and tactics, and you need to read a lot. To read things you enjoy, things you don't like. Work out why you like or dislike what you read and be open to criticism. And be prepared to research not just how to write, but also the topics you want to write about.

The short story at the end of the version I read was very good, too. Strongly captured a mood.

Elements of Eloquence - Mark Forsyth
Published November 2013
Challenges covered:
    - A funny book
    - Non-fiction 
    - Book by an author not read before

I really enjoyed this. It catalogues various rhetoric techniques, with a brief explanation and examples of use. To be honest, I'd have liked a little more explanation and a few more examples on each, but as an overview it was fascinating. My one concern was that he said other books will argue about each point of rhetoric, about what it actually means and whether x, y or z demonstrates the right qualities, which has had the unfortunate side effect of dissuading me from looking further into the techniques. Which is daft, because these are exactly the useful sort of things to consider when learning to write well! That aside, this is another accessible book on writing and I definitely recommend it.


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