When all the for dummies books came out I was originally offended by them. I thought to myself that needing help with something doesn’t make you dumb.
Then, I decided to be amused by them. They really can be quite helpful and there is something liberating about acknowledging that you really know nothing about a subject. Typically, when I bring myself to pick up one of those books, I go into it thinking I really know nothing about the particular subject. I find myself being pleasantly surprised that not everything covered in the book is new to me, which makes me feel smarter – Hooray! Now I’m a big fan of the …for dummies books.
I have been particularly enjoying Writing Fiction for Dummies by Randy Ingermanson and Peter Economy. Click on the title to purchase on Amazon. I’m going to digress just a little bit about the author Ingermanson and then I’ll get back to this book he wrote about writing fiction.
I first ran across Randy many months ago when I was googling “how to write fiction”. Don’t you just love the internet? As you can probably guess, my degree in Justice Studies from Arizona State didn’t cover much in the way of fiction writing. Sure I had to write papers but it was mostly heavy stuff like the pros and cons of the death penalty or legislating morality. Fun, right? Actually, it was. My classmates and I had some fantastic debates, but lets face it those topics can be a bit depressing – regardless of your stance on the issues. That is what is so appealing about writing fiction. In a world filled with disappointment and sorrow, escaping into fiction is a welcome relief. Anyway, back to Randy Ingermanson. While trying to teach myself how to write fiction using a google search (it’s okay to laugh at that), I ran across the website for his e-zine Advanced Fiction Writing. I knew I wasn’t an advanced fiction writer, but the hope is someday, maybe, right? So, I spent some time reading his free tips, which led me to sign up for his free newsletter (free help is great). When the newsletter would arrive in my email box I was so anxious to read it and usually did immediately. Eventually, I ended up purchasing his novel Oxygen . Click on the title for a link to Amazon where you can preview the first chapter and purchase it if you like it. I really enjoyed the suspense of it. What I really thought was cool about this guy is that he has a Ph.D. in physics from Berkeley. And he is writing fiction. I just love that! He also created some software to help you organize and outline your novel using what he calls the Snowflake method. I have tried it and I like it. I currently use Snowflake and Scriveners (click on either one for more info) combined because that is just how my brain works. I don’t personally know this physics dude/author however I really appreciated all the information that he gives away for free. A lot of websites prey on aspiring authors and charge for every piece of advice.
So, after all this I decided to go ahead and purchase his Writing Fiction for Dummies book and I am so glad I did. It really starts with the basics and helps you navigate the confusing (for me anyway) world of plots, sub-plots, etc. The first part of the book starts with getting ready to write fiction, followed by actually writing the fiction and then moving onto the editing/polishing of said fiction. He finishes his book with info on getting published and 10 steps to analyzing your story. Really just a ton of helpful information. I find myself referencing this book over and over again when I get stuck in a certain place in my book and also just when I’m wanting to learn more about the craft.
I don’t have a dog in the fight for any of the authors/books/websites I’ve mentioned here, I just like to offer links to things that have been helpful for me. Feel free to check them out, keep the good and throw out the bad.
One last thing for this week, I welcome comments so if you have read any of the above and would like to offer up your opinion that would be great. Also, feel free to post links to other things you have found helpful.