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Word Painting: A Guide to Writing More…
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Word Painting: A Guide to Writing More Descriptively

by Rebecca McClanahan

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This book is a must read for any writer wanting to take their craft to the next level. ( )
  brebirch | Nov 2, 2013 |
I'm so pleased with this book that it's tough to figure out where to start. The author talks about working description into our stories. She could have steered us in the direction of pages and pages of static description, yet she doesn't. She could have pushed us in the direction of tired and overused techniques, yet she didn't. Ms. McClanahan happily points out pitfalls, trite methods, and things to beware of at all stages. Her exercises back this up, helping us to subvert the expected. She also has a wonderful, quirky sense of humor, and uses her own advice on writing descriptively to turn what could have been a dry textbook into a beautiful and inspiring, fun-to-read book.

This book has no large margins. No space-gobbling quotes. No blank space for doing the (very helpful) exercises. No overly large font or ridiculous line-spacing. None of the traditional tricks for making writing books seem larger than they actually are. This book is every bit as thick with useful information as it looks.

The range of topics covered in this book in relation to description is phenomenal. I could spend pages listing out the topics covered (and how well they're dealt with!), such as metaphor, "bringing characters to life through description," point of view, setting, narrative, the senses, and on and on.

Whether you write fiction, non-fiction, or poetry, this book can make your writing sing. I have a better notion of where my weaknesses as a writer lie, and how I might turn them into strengths. And that's some of the highest praise I can give to a writing book! This is truly one of my favorite writing books, and it's well worth a writer's time and money to read it.

Full review at ErrantDreams ( )
  errantdreams | Dec 15, 2007 |
Would I recommend this? Sure. It's definitely a different view than Monica Woods'. Just take note that McClanahan does use literary and classical examples. I was fine with this personally, because I was familiar with some of the texts she uses, and I was also happy to have a discourse on the subject that took place outside of the speculative fiction circle. In a way, it reminded me what the standard rules and expectations are, which I needed. Because I can't break the rules until I understand exactly what they are, and it's hard to apply these rules to speculative fiction if I don't understand them intuitively. I think I have a better understanding now, and I'm glad to have this in my library.

One note of amusement: like any description book, McClanahan warns against the dreaded -ly adverbs. Yet, the subtitle includes one of those dreaded adverbs: "A Guide to Writing More Descriptively."

Surely I'm not the only one to see irony in that. :)

For a full review, please click here: http://calico-reaction.livejournal.com/33494.html ( )
  devilwrites | Apr 28, 2007 |
More for the literary than the genre writer but thought provoking nonetheless. ( )
  McGrewc | Apr 8, 2007 |
"Think better of stirring a reader from the world of her books. I might bolt, like anyone shaken too suddenly from a a dream. The place I've entered in what John Gardner, in his classic book The Art of Fiction, calls the fictional dream. Because the writer has done her job, the world of the book I am reading has become, for the moment at least, more real than the world at my elbow. Books this good should carry a warning: Your quiche might burn, your child escape his playpen, the morning glory vine strangle your roses, and you'll never know." p.4-5
  jmiedema | Jan 27, 2007 |
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