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Word Painting: A Guide to Writing More…

Word Painting: A Guide to Writing More Descriptively (edition 2000)

by Rebecca McClanahan (Author)

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301755,200 (3.98)1
Title:Word Painting: A Guide to Writing More Descriptively
Authors:Rebecca McClanahan (Author)
Info:Writer's Digest Books (2000), Edition: New edition, 256 pages
Collections:Your library

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Word Painting: A Guide to Writing More Descriptively by Rebecca McClanahan



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This book was a pleasure to read. Not only was it informative, it was well written. Although aimed more towards the literary, there is no reason why the well structured advice cannot be applied to genre fiction. In fact, genre fiction is probably where it is most needed. How many times have we read a good thriller or crime novel that keeps us turning the page because of intrigue or action, only to feel detached from the characters, or get that icky feeling when the emotion of a scene jars with the setting or tone? Then the novel comes across as unpolished even though it might be technically error free. This book goes beyond the nuts and bolts of writing, and for some, will open up a world of true creation and inspiration. It shows why good writing is a craft. I highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys writing, whether they intend to publish or not. There are multitudes of examples of the topics discussed and numerous writing exercises to help a writer develop. ( )
  KatiaMDavis | Dec 19, 2017 |
A decent book with a lot of good advice, but man can it be long-winded at times. It starts to drag about halfway through and entirely loses focus by the end, delving into territory that's covered much better, and in greater detail, by other books.

Honestly, if this book were half as long it would've been twice as good, because the beginning is actually pretty great. I loved the section on metaphor, simile, and other figures of speech, for instance, but the absolute best thing I took away from this book is "the proper and special name of a thing" which is something McClanahan stole from Aristotle, though I do not begrudge her for it because she lays it out so perfectly and so clearly (and also because she flat-out admits that fact right away). It is the relatively simple and, one might think, obvious idea that naming something, properly, does more to implant the image of that thing in the reader's mind than a paragraph of description would.
That concept, and phrase, which is almost like a mantra, just clicked with me in a way that so few things do, and I will never, ever forget it. ( )
  ForeverMasterless | Apr 23, 2017 |
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 |
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