Tag Archives: writing

How to Write Damn Good Fiction by James N. Frey

Advanced Techniques for Dramatic Storytelling

I first heard James N. Frey's book How to Write a Damn Good Novel recommended by champion speaker Craig Valentine for its tips on storytelling. I want to learn better storytelling and since I couldn't find that book at my local library I ended up grabbing this sequel on advanced storytelling techniques instead. I'm not particularly interested in writing fiction but much of the advice also applies to telling true stories to a written or spoken audience. Here are the key insights I gleaned:

Having skipped the first book, I don't know really what I missed (you know, we don't know what we don't know), but I could still follow much of what he was saying. The rules are there to be broken, but first you want to know what the rules are so you know when you're breaking them.

I was most interested to … Continue reading…

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Writing a book using OpenOffice.org

My first book, on attracting women, was created using the OpenOffice.org 3.1 Office Productivity Suite. I like OpenOffice because it's free, is community-supported, and has most of the features that I really need to get my job done. Here's my experience using it on seriously sized projects of over 200 pages.

I recently finished the 3rd draft of a 450 page book, so I know what it's like to use OpenOffice.org Writer to create and edit a significant work with over 30 chapters, a two-level table of contents, and several pictures. I also used OpenOffice.org Draw for the cover design, and PDF export to generate files to send to Lulu for printing. I was pleased to find that OpenOffice.org was up to the task, but there were a few quirks I had to navigate and some missing features which made the task more painful than I would have … Continue reading…

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Cassell’s Guide To Written English by James Aitchison

I read this book because I wanted to improve my writing by gaining a better understanding of the formal structure of written English, so I would know what the rules are and when I am breaking them. The author makes the point that breaking the rules unknowingly will alienate some of your readers, undermine your authority in your chosen subject area, and just plain distract and annoy more pedantic types; so you'd better be aware of when you're doing it.

The book does an amicable job of covering the various different types of speech, sentence construction, use of rhythm in writing, avoiding repetition and monotony; and more. I found the sections on the deeper intricacies of phrasing almost sleep-inducing; "almost" being a shame because I was suffering quite bad insomnia at the time, and could have done with something that forcibly made me nod off.

The author makes seemingly arbitrary … Continue reading…

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The Elements Of Style by Strunk and White

I'm embarrassed to say that when I decided to become a writer, it was about 18 months before I got around to picking up this seminal work on the craft. To my folly, I had churned out two drafts of my first book, and hundreds of other pages of content for other works before even acquainting myself with the basic wisdom enshrined in this book.

This is a thin book, and deliberately so; one of its main points is that good writing should be concise. "Let every word tell." It's got lots of great advice, but maybe it's a bit too thin, so I suggest you also check out the Cassell's Guide To Written English too.

If you want to be taken seriously in the written word, Strunk & White is essential reading, if only so you can drop the name around other writers and boost your street cred.… Continue reading…

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