Saturday, 19 March 2011
We'll Teach you How to Write
The fact that teaching people to write, is such a money spinner has always soured me on, "How To Write Books", but at the same time there are some great titles out there in which masters of the craft share their considerable knowledge with the reader. Now, that can only be a good thing, no matter how natural the talent burning inside the would be bestseller.
The fact is though that there are many how to write books out there that are best given a wide berth - written solely to turn over a few quid, and filled with grand promises to mould you into the biggest seller of them all. All you need do to transform yourself into a writing powerhouse is buy all 927 books in this series.
Mind you given ol' Stevie's penchant for page busting paragraphs, On Writing does end up as a rather long, short book. The average length for these type of books is around 300 pages and yet Steve's comes in closer to 400. That's not a complaint, though - I enjoyed every word in, On Writing. Ironically because it disdains the conventions of how to write books, it tells us much more about the craft and does take us closer to the man that is Stephen King. The author is painfully candid when writing about his drug and drink addictions.
More conventional in its approach, but another favourite of mine is Writing Crime Fiction by H.R.F. Keating. I first owned a copy of this book when I was in my teens, and being a snobby nosed working class ruffian, the name of the author impressed me greatly. He had three first names, all of them presented in initials that sounded impossible grand to me. I had friends with names like Billy, John, Smithy and here was someone called, H,R.F - I pictured the author as this playboy writer who drove an Aston Martin and drunk bubbly out of the shoes of leggy birds with Russian names.
Ahh well - I've read the book again recently and enjoyed it just as much. The author,the creator of the bestselling Inspector Ghote series, not only outlines what he sees as the mechanics of the craft but delivers an insightful look at the history of that genre and what makes it work. Not only that but I've discovered the writer actually looks more Captain Birdseye than James Bond.
Incidentally the first Ghote book will be reissued soon as a Penguin Modern Classic expect a review on the Archive soon.