The science fiction writer Damon Knight wrote once that writers were basically toads in childhood. They were the introverts, the loners, the less-than-handsome or beautiful children in school. Many of those toads gravitated to literature to read about better times and better worlds, he noted.
The writer Frederick Pohl objected. He claimed he did not have an unhappy childhood, nor was he ugly. Until he knocked a tooth out when he was about 10, Pohl said, he was a rather cute little kid.
Whether cute or ugly, this audiobook is for the men and women who have gravitated to literature and dream of being writers.
To be honest no book can make you a best-selling author. That must come through your own creativity. What books can do is give you tips on plotting, dialogue, prose, pace, characterization and other aspects of the writing craft.
While you can never teach creativity, a book can give you sound advice on action verbs, crisp dialogue, and good characterization. Almost every best-selling writer can point to advice from another writer or a book that helped him develop his craft.
While there are some things that cannot be learned - such as how to copy George V. Higgins' amazing dialogue - zero other aspects of the writing craft can be studied and incorporated into your own work while still allowing flexibility for your own special style.
Even with sound advice and some writing talent, a great deal of knowledge about writing will be learned at your own keyboard, pecking out scenes of mystery or science fiction or childhood longing.
This book is concerned with the basic nuts and bolts of the writing craft. The hammer and nails of literature. Writers will have to use those hammers and nails to fashion their own unique creative dreams.
Perhaps Mr. Knight's view of writing is true. Perhaps most writers were toads in childhood.
But some of those toads - and a few cute little kids - have created beautiful worlds and magnificent stories.
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