Monday, February 20, 2012
STEIN ON WRITING by Sol Stein
Title: Stein on Writing
Author: So Stein
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin; 1st edition (January 25, 2000)
STEIN ON WRITING by SOL STEIN is clearly to date the most impactful book on writing I’ve read. If you were to glance inside my copy you’d find dog-eared pages, highlights galore, asterisks, and notes written throughout.
STEIN ON WRITING is precise information, right to the point with useful examples. The language isn’t over the top. A must read for writers at any stage of their journey, but especially for those new to the craft and unpublished.
Here are a few notes I took pertaining to specific areas of the book:
Page 8 – Feelings, no facts.
Page 20 – Must grasp/shock in first sentence and or paragraph.
Page 36 – The first paragraph should contain:
What will they see.
Focus on an individual.
Visible characteristics of the individual.
Individual doing or saying something.
Startling or odd fact to grab attention.
Page 42 – Readers insist on seeing what they are reading because of TV.
Page 43 - Description needs to be part of the storytelling, not static.
Page 45 – Storyteller, not an interior decorator.
Page 49 – If characters are alive, they become the story. You must know and be attached to the characters in order for the plot to work, not the other way around.
Page 57 – Talk and act, not tell.
Page 54 – Good examples of showing not telling.
Page 55 – Show with eyes, not just state color. How/what are they expressing.
Page 55, 56 – Words need to not be just informative, but evoke something. Need to stir feelings in readers, even in description.
Page 62 – What makes a character.
Page 71 – Individualize minor characters through main characters eyes, not narrative.
Page 75 – Separate our lives/beliefs from characters.
Page 81 – Character questions to ask.
Page 197 – Get rid of the flab!
Page 260 – Need to visualize each paragraph/scene first to get a sense of the surroundings to give great detail.
If I had to pick one thing that stuck out the most that I learned from STEIN ON WRITING, I would have to say to cut out the flab. After reading about eliminating flab, I went to work on my own manuscript, getting rid of the words that clog our writing and hinder our reading experience.