Good Reading : May 2010
14 goodreading ı MAY 2010 Budding writers know they need a lot more than just a pen and paper (or a keyboard) to write a novel. A writer also needs: a good idea, self-confidence, a strong plot, time, motivation, tenacity and skill. Sometimes he or she needs advice, encouragement and criticism. And that's where the plethora (and I do mean plethora -- there are hundreds out there) of writing manuals come in. Fiona McIntosh, bestselling and prolific author of fantasy, crime, children's literature and historical saga, came late to writing. She didn't feel the burning desire to tell stories until she was 40, attending a writing course run by Bryce Courtenay. Fiona's advice (on her website) is to lear n from the best: 'I'd quietly suggest that you ensure the lecturer is published as a fiction writer because call me asnobbutIdothinkitmakesa difference to lear n from someone who has actually leapt the great divide and made it to the other side successfully. Then you can draw on their experience as much as lear n the tools of the trade.' With this advice in mind, it isn't a bad idea to start looking for writers' manuals written by successful novelists. And for star power you can't look past Stephen King's On Writing. The first half of this book is an autobiography which is as compelling as any of his horror stories: there's the story of King's first bestseller, an adaptation of The Pit and the Pendulum that he sold schoolmates for 25 cents a copy; we lear n how he started out writing while living in a caravan with his wife and their small child; and how he broke into hor ror (after dozens of unsuccessful submissions) with Carrie. The second half is full of encouraging, pragmatic advice for the budding writer. He lists the tools you'll need and then advises writing a draft and leaving it for three months before revisiting it. He also tells you that you can do it, that you don't need any special gift, just stamina and tenacity. Elmore Leonard joined the forum with his new book: 10 Rules of Writing, a pithy little book of clever maxims. These are the ways Leonard stays 'invisible' when writing his novels, and they are useful and funny, but they won't guide you through the process, they'll just give you a nudge in the right direction. Far more nurturing are Anne Lamott with Bird by Bird and Natalie Goldberg with Writing Down the Bones. Both Lamott and Goldberg are more famous for their categorical b okin allofus?Ifso,isthereabookwecan SARAH MINNS gives us the run-down on writers' manuals.