Time for listener’s questions:
I’ve read a couple good books on writing and I’d like to find others that study fiction in further depth. I’ve seen two available online and I’d like to know your opinion on them:
- “How Fiction Works“, by James Wood.
- “The Art of Fiction: Illustrated from Classic and Modern Texts“, by David Lodge.
I’m afraid they might be critical articles on classical authors -when I’m not interested in literary criticism- or they may be too general or superficial.
Unfortunately I don’t know any of them. I see on Amazon that Lodge’s is a compilation of articles previously published on The Independent on sunday. Each chapter deals with one topic and illustrates it with quotes from clasics, which is probably a good idea for a structure and might waken up your appetite for further reading. According to the back cover, Wood is not an author but a critic, and according to the table of contents, two chapters are devoted to Flaubert, which is probably a waste of pages unless you know his work. Both volumes receive generally good reviews, though Lodge’s sem to be slightly better. If I had to choose among those two, I think I’d go for Lodge, but you see it’s only a first impression. If you’re really interested? Get both.
Don’t fool yourself, though: there are hardly any “advanced” manuals for writers. I still haven’t found one that takes for granted that I know the difference between first- and third-person narration and takes on from there. They all stop to explain -and frankly, one gets sick of it. The reason why they all appeal to beginners is because by doing so they expect to reach a wider audience and sell more copies. If you know a book “for experts”, please share it in the comments!
On the other hand, one learns something from every book. Sometimes it’s a detail on structure, or perhaps a new trick for writing dialogue, or a new perspective on things we thought we already knew. As we can’t possibly learn everything from one book, the more we read, the more we’ll know.
But remember: we learn writing through reading, but mainly through writing.