Reading about writing

A little more about learning from experts

One thing I have been reading a lot about recent is writing. I love reading authors insights about their work.

I’m a writer by trade and instinct: a commercial, non-fiction, corporate communicator, yes – but a writer still. I dream of writing art, of fiction – and I may get round to getting more of that done soon or I may not. Even if I don’t the truth is that the dream is a sweet one, and the pursuit of it makes me better at my day job.

A few years ago I took a screenwriting course. I didn’t produce a screenplay, nor did I even finish the course, but I still learned a great deal about writing by looking at it through the screenwriter’s eyes. Structure, function, discipline, how the shape of text on a page, the mix of dialogue and exposition can tell an experienced reader whether a document is worth reading, before they’ve even read a word. How a producer can tell how much it would cost and how it would run by weighing the sheaf of paper in their hand.

Writers always have interesting things to say about writing. Some writers more interesting than others (Laurence Block’s Telling Lies for Fun and Profit is my favourite right now, but more on that another time) and the ones that begin by admitting that it is different for everyone and their set of rules and practices may or may not work for you are usually the most useful of all.