Friday, January 6, 2012

Reading.....On Writing

I've been reading an old pocket book I picked up cheap at an estate sale, entitled The Writer's Book, published as an Everyday Handbooks by Barnes & Noble, Ninth printing 1966. It's a book of essays on writing by different authors. It says on the front cover "Practical advice by experts in every field of writing," and "Presented by the Author's Guild, Edited by Helen Hull."

So far, I have read the advice from Pearl S. Buck, Ira Wolfert, Thomas Mann, John Hersey, Ann Petry, Francis Steegmuller, Richard Lockridge, Rex Stout, Arthur Koestler, Faith Baldwin, and Jacques Barzun. I've read just enough of it to get lost in the mire of how-to's. All good advice, but as I've heard before,"It's easier to teach than do." I do find the book enlightening and entertaining, although it is a dull subject to some of the authors who are picking up a couple of bucks for providing the information, I presume. I've read books by some of the authors noted above, like Faith Baldwin, John Hersey, Rex Stout, and I think F. Steegmuller and maybe Jacques Barzun, R. Lockridge, and A. Koestler. Rex Stout was a popular one with the Nero Wolfe character, Pearl Buck on China, John Hersey's Hiroshima book, and Steegmuller's New Yorker stories. I was first introduced to the New Yorker in high school and went to the library and read a couple of issues from cover to cover. Now, I look at it for the cartoons mainly.

I just hope my old, partially decomposed brain cells will let me retain half of the info contained in those essays. If not a half, maybe a quarter, or just enough to provide me with the tools to improve my writing to the point where it will become less of a chore to read it after the first draft.

What's all this have to do with writing Western fiction? Well, from a practical standpoint, it has everything to do with it, although none of those authors listed above ever wrote anything like a traditional cowboy story, not that I'm aware of anyway. The advice they hand out is applicable to all genre writing or all writing in general. I may be able to apply this knowledge to my next novel, in fact, I had better start applying it while it is still fresh in my mind. All these facts have a tendency to float away in the ozone before I can make good use of it.

Let's see, the next essayist will be W. H. Auden. Is that pronouced AW-den or OW-den, or Oh-den?

I would like to welcome a new follower, Prashant C. Trikannad. Welcome aboard, Prashant!


  1. I read quite a few books on writing. Oftentimes they help in that they reinforce something I've read elsewhere, which goes a long way toward getting my old brain cells to remember it.

  2. Good writing is good writing whatever the genre, I reckon.

    I pronounce Auden as Or-den.

  3. Charles, I think it sinks in when you read the same thing by different people, but I'm amazed at the number of different aspects and views on writing.

    Thanks, Patsy. The dictionary said AW-dn, the internet pronunciation sounded like you said it. I'll just call him him W. H. or Wistan.

  4. Hi Oscar,I'm here :) stopping in to see what you're reading.
    Have a great week

  5. If I can get through the books I'm writing I plan on writing a how to book, called...
    "Forget all that stuff your were taught and learn the REAL SECRETS a writer needs to know to get published!"
    When I get it written I'll send you a copy, hon!

    Hugs Hawk

  6. Elaine, thanks for stoppng by.

    Hawk, I'm looking forward to receiving that book. There's always room for one more how-to on writing.