September 10, 2010

Back to School for Writers - Bonnie Way

Over the past few months, I’ve been editing a novel for another writer. I really enjoyed working with another writer. It reminds me that writing is a journey; while I’m a little further on the journey than this writer, there are many other writers who are further along than I and who helped me when I was starting out.

As I’ve worked on his novel, I’ve tried to share the tips that I’ve learned in the ten years that I’ve been on this writing journey. One of those is the big rule of “show, don’t tell.” While I’ve read many articles on it and heard many workshops on it, I found it very hard to explain to another writer. It’s a tricky concept. The best I could do was to point to articles by Suzette Saxton and Bonnie Grove, two writers who handle “show don’t tell” very well.

Much of what I know about writing has come from reading. A couple books on writing I'd recommend are Things Feigned or Imagined by Fred Stenson (a good Canadian author) and A Passion for Narrative by Jack Hodgins. Both deal with fiction, provide good examples and practical exercises, and have a lot of great advice. There’s also a lot of good websites for writers to hang out at (and subscribe to writer’s newsletters from): Fiction Factor, Coffee House for Writers, and Randy Ingermanson’s Advanced Fiction Writing.

I would recommend trying to find a writing course, especially one specifically geared towards fiction or novel writing. UBC offers some courses online or on evenings/weekends. If there's a college or university near you, see what they offer; I know that several in Edmonton offer writing courses, either online or on weekends, so other institutions may as well. You can also check out websites or magazines such as Writer's Digest and The Writer.

As school starts again, it's a good time for writers to work on learning more about their craft as well.  Challenge yourself to read a book, take a course, or even just follow a writer's blog and join the conversations there about writing—do something to become a better writer this school year!

~ © Bonnie Way,

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