Saturday, September 24, 2011

Saturday un-Solicitations: Creative Writing for Dummies

Remember last week's Saturday Solicitation about a The Everything X Book? Today's Solicitations post is about another book of that ilk: Creative Writing for Dummies by Maggie Hamand. Yes, the people that made up all those crib notes for the high schoolers and college kids that were too lazy to read Hamlet and MacBeth have written a guide for creative writing. That just offends me for some reason. I'm about to get on my soapbox so stay with me.

Let me be clear. There is no shortcut to writing a novel. You get an idea. You develop the idea in whatever way is "your" way (research for nonfiction, brainstorming/outlining/character creation for fiction, etc). You write the first draft. You revise that draft. You revise the 2nd draft. And the 3rd. And 4th. And however many other drafts it takes to get the story right. Then you edit multiple times. Maybe you do the revision and editing at the same time. Maybe you alternate revision and editing between drafts. Whatever. Only after your manuscript is finished, then you start the process of publication, be it for self-publishing, a "big House" publisher, a small independent press, or whatever your poison. Your choice of publication dictates what you must do to reach the end result. That is it. There is no shortcut in that.

I found this cheat sheet on the Dummies website for this book. It is what we call "the Reader's Digest version" of the book. It is short, not so sweet, and to the point. It has pretty much further irritated me to the point that I am now just being pissy. The first thing you will read on that cheat sheet is: "Do you want to be the next J. K. Rowling...?" Wow. Just wow. When I hear someone say that they want to be the next J.K. Rowling, or Stephen King, or Danielle Steele, I internally hear "I want to make as much money as this person does or be as famous as this author is." One of the first things a person should learn about writing is this: if you are writing for money, notoriety, or any reason other than because you have a story to tell that you are honestly interested in and excited about, you are doing it wrong.

As far as the actual information goes, it is just like all other writing manuals. Everything in there is available online somewhere for free. I think I say this about pretty much every writing manual but it bears repeating anyways. Go here and click on the picture of the book to get a look at the Table of Contents. If you can find something listed in the book that isn't available for free online, I will be shocked and amazed. Seriously, tell me if you find something because I'd love to be able to say that the trees used in printing the book didn't die in vain.

Also, just like last week's book, there is a huge amount of information under the generic umbrella of creative writing. The Dummies book includes Journalism and Travel Writing in addition to those listed last week.
I do not usually review books that I didn't like but these last two are an exception to the rule. They just irritate me on a personal level. I will not say that no one should buy this book, but I do strongly advocate using common sense when making purchases of this nature. 

And once more: There are no shortcuts in writing. None. Okay, I'm off my soapbox. You can return to your normal activities.

Love is love, no matter the back story. <3 DS

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