Tag Archives: writer’s bookshelf

Rules of Magic Part II–Book Recommendation #2

If you found the discussion of magic below interesting, know that I have just barely scratched the surface.  If you’re interested in further, deeper discussion of magic systems in fantasy, and how to make them believable, I have a couple further resources for you to check out.

Holly Lisle has been my go-to source for everything writing related for years.  This article is one of the first things of hers I read, and it really opened my eyes to how complex a topic magic can be, and how much more thought I needed to give it.

Fantasy Is Not For Sissies–Real Rules for Real Worlds

Around the same time, I bought my copy of Orson Scott Card’s How to Write Science Fiction & Fantasy. Although magic is only a small part of what Card teaches in this book, it stood all my previous thoughts about magic on their head.  It taught me an entirely new way of thinking about what magic is and how it relates to the world you are building.  For me, it took the thought process that began when I read Holly’s article to the next level.

And you could do worse than to read the rest of the book, too.  It’s one of a handful of writing books that I have kept around for years after I first read them, and I still periodically pull it out and read it again.  I find something new to think about every time I read it.

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The Timelessness of Writing Advice–Book Recommendation #1

I recently caught sight of one of my favorite books on writing, sitting on my book shelf, and on a whim decided to re-read it.

Yes, I know the book I’m showing you was published in 1988.  I bought my copy from a used bookstore when I was in college, and I have kept it ever since.

And still, after all these years, it is one of my very favorites.  (Did you know they came out with a Kindle edition a few years ago?  Neither did I!  If you click on the picture, it should take you to it.  I’m getting a copy for my Kindle, right.now.)

Lawrence Block writes mysteries–at the time, I didn’t even read mysteries.  I read a few of his novels, but only after reading his books on writing.  I read his books on writing after getting hooked on his column that ran for many years in Writer’s Digest–I still have a stack of old issues that I pull out sometimes.

You will find books of genre-specific writing advice.  Lawrence Block’s books are not those books.  His advice transcends genre.  He takes on some of the more esoteric topics others don’t often talk about, like foreshadowing that can be done after the fact, the large role of intuition in writing, and the simple fact that the way words look on a page is important.  A lot of this is not nuts-and-bolts advice (I have other books I’ll recommend for that!)

But it is timeless.  I was thinking about it this morning, after one of my kids wondered aloud why I was reading such a old book.  I could find something newer to read, but I doubt I could find something better to read.

The simple fact is that, while genres and writing styles may come in and out of fashion, the techniques of putting words on the page don’t really change.  This book was written when writing was done on typewriters, when Kindles didn’t exist, when the world was a different place.  And it doesn’t matter at all.  The advice is still sound.  Lawrence Block’s entertaining, humorous, engaging style works as well today as it did in 1988.

If you’re in the mood for some good reading (and some good thinking) about writing, give this one a shot.