Short Story Writing, Volume II
by Jean M. Fredette
asserted on-line that I single-handedly keep the Writer's Digest Book Club in
business. I have at least 75 books on the various aspects of writing, most
of which I have purchased from the WDBC over the past year and a half.
Fortunately, they bring out new books each month, and there are still many in
their library that I have not yet purchased.
Handbook of Short Story Writing, Volume II, each of the 33 chapters is written
by a different author giving his or her good advice on a particular topic.
Some of the authors included are John Updike, James Gunn, Lawrence Block, Orson
Scott Card, Ansen Dibell, Michael A. Banks, Dwight V. Swain, Esther M. Friesner,
and Darrell Schweitzer.. At the end of the book is a bio for each author.
The book has
chapters devoted exclusively to short stories, but most of the essays relate to
fiction in general, so if you write novels but avoid short stories, this book is
still for you. Topics include "The Finer Points of
Characterization" (by Orson Scott Card, an article I especially enjoyed),
plot, dialogue (and the six no-no's of dialogue), point of view, setting,
transitions, breaking out with your first sale and mastering editorial
requirements for writing young people's stories. In a few cases, notably
dialogue and plot, there is more than one chapter on the subject.
the six no-no's of dialogue ("The Secrets of Writing Powerful
Dialogue" by Gary Provost) cover such problems as too many direct
references, describing dialogue, heavy-handed dialogue, unnecessary dialogue,
repeated information in dialogue, and dialogue without tension.
"There's no absolute rule about when you use dialogue and when you
shouldn't, but here's a good generalization: If a stranger were nearby, would he
try to eavesdrop on the conversation? If the answer is no, don't use the
dialogue. If the answer is yes, use it. And you can quote me on
Writer's Digest Book Club books, this one gives good, practical advice on
writing fiction, with several articles that apply directly to the short story.
It's well worth adding to your library.
Book Report: The Handbook
of Short Story Writing, Volume II
Edited by Jean M. Fredette
Introduction by John Updike
Published by Writer's Digest Books, 1988, ISBN 0-89879-463-3 (v.2)