Practical Tips On Writing Still Hold True [A Review]

On Writing by Stephen King

stephen king - on writing

   [Image courtesy of bookdepository.com]

This was my second time reading the book (the first time was more than ten years ago) and I found myself still enjoying Stephen King’s no-nonsense, yet humorous and practical approach to the topic.

I like his emphasis on telling the truth in one’s stories, because readers will know.

I also like his take on plots, theme and story. He writes and grows his stories from situations presented to his characters, and he lets them “guide” him in developing the story based on how they “react” to the situations. The plot and theme will follow naturally as the story takes shape and he starts to think about what it all means to him. Some lecturers in creative writing may not agree with him, but I think that’s an effective way of making the story realistic, because it also allows the writer to reflect and consider the situation as if it were happening to him. And it feels so similar to what I used to do as a kid when I made up stories. 

Finally, I like his advice on writing simply, and removing words and information that do not help the reader get on with the story. This is useful advice not just for writing fiction, but also for all kinds of writing. I mean, who likes to read long and tedious paragraphs that seem intent on hiding the main point and yet don’t give any relevant information right?

I’ve been a long-time fan of King’s books, and now I’m reminded of why I’m still one. 

VERDICT: This is a book for folks who want to know more about writing well. Despite the fact that Stephen King wrote it from the point of view of a fiction writer, a number of his tips will apply in other types of writing too. So if you want these tips and be entertained at the same time, this book will be an enjoyable and informative read.

For those who want a short description of the book, here’s an overview from bookdepository.com:

Part memoir, part master class by one of the bestselling authors of all time, this superb volume is a revealing and practical view of the writer’s craft, comprising the basic tools of the trade every writer must have. King’s advice is grounded in his vivid memories from childhood through his emergence as a writer, from his struggling early career to his widely reported, near-fatal accident in 1999–and how the inextricable link between writing and living spurred his recovery. Brilliantly structured, friendly and inspiring, On Writing will empower and entertain everyone who reads it–fans, writers, and anyone who loves a great story well told.

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Try Some Elantrian Magic and Get Hooked [A Review]

Elantris by Brandon Sanderson

brandon sanderson - elantris

   [Image courtesy of bookdepository.com]

 

I knew I was suffering from Mistborn withdrawal syndrome when I couldn’t find anything on my TBR deck that was of interest to me. It had been a long time since I last read a fantasy series that I really like and after Mistborn, my reading world seemed a little duller again. And so, I decided to try Elantris – a single-book fantasy novel by Sanderson – to wean myself off his magical systems.

Elantris was Sanderson’s first novel before the Mistborn trilogy. The magical system adopted here is more “conventional”, nothing revolutionary like Allomancy. Nevertheless, the writing style and characterization are distinctly Sanderson.

What is similar between the Mistborn trilogy and Elantris is Sanderson’s attempt to explore real issues of politics and governance in a make-believe world, and the arguments put forward through the characters’ dialogue were an enjoyable read. 

The story finishes in one book, so there’s no need to worry about having to wait for the sequel, but Sanderson has cleverly inserted plot points and questions throughout the book to leave the possibility of a sequel open.

I can’t wait for that sequel to happen.

VERDICT: If you’re new to Brandon Sanderson, and are not ready to invest in a trilogy like the Mistborn series, try Elantris. It may just persuade you to give the Mistborn trilogy a read.

For those who want to know a little about the story line, here’s an overview from bookdepository.com:

Elantris was built on magic and it thrived. But then the magic began to fade and Elantris began to rot. And now its shattered citizens face domination by a powerful Imperium motivated by dogged religious views. Can a young Princess unite the people of Elantris, rediscover the lost magic and lead a rebellion against the imperial zealots? Brandon Sanderson’s debut fantasy showed his skill as a storyteller and an imaginer of baroque magical systems to be fully developed from the start.

Will I ever own a Kindle?

Being an avid reader means I like having something interesting to read whenever I want and wherever I go.

In the days before ebooks and smart phones became prevalent, this meant I never went anywhere without at least one book, I did not own bags that wouldn’t fit a mass paperback, and I agonized over which books to bring every time I went on a trip. And so, I watched with anticipation when Amazon launched the Kindle in 2007, and promised hundreds of books on the go with just one device. I waited for it to come to Singapore. It never did.

Then the iPhone came along, followed by the iPad. By the time the iPad mini happened in 2012, ebooks were no longer mostly accessible by e-readers only, and I rushed out to buy one. The happiness and euphoria lasted for about a month, before my tired eyes persuaded me to call it a day and switch back to physical books. Reading off a tablet simply didn’t allow me the same number of reading hours I enjoyed from words on paper.

That brought me back to my original inclination to get the Kindle, but the only way for me to buy one was to ask a friend going to the US to buy it there and bring it back for me. And I still had to solve the problem of being able to buy the latest Kindle books after I’d gotten my hands on the hardware.

It is 2016 today. The Kindle is still not available in Singapore – a city with one of the highest levels of internet penetration and number of tech-savvy users. I understand it’s got something to do with distribution rules, but that does little to reduce the amount of frustration I feel.

Of course, lots of kind souls and tech bloggers have shared alternative, albeit not exactly legal, ways to buy the Kindle and Kindle books outside of the available regions. I have searched and considered, struggled a little and am finally giving up. It is simply too much of a hassle. Plus, there is no guarantee that I will like reading off the Kindle more than physical books.

I shall stick to the good old physical books.

(Then again, I wouldn’t mind if someone in Amazon sees this post and finally does something for the poor reading souls on this little red dot.)

 

 

It’s Over!!! [A Review]

The Hero of Ages, Mistborn Book Three by Brandon Sanderson

brandon sanderson - mistborn the hero of ages

   [Image courtesy of bookdepository.com]

It’s finally over! And boy, was it a roller coaster ride!

Allomancy, Feruchemy, Hemalurgy. They simply blew my mind away.

While this third installment of the series is packed with explanations and answers to all the questions in the first two books, Sanderson did not let the theories overwhelm the narration. Instead, he used them to his advantage by keeping up the pace and increasing the reader’s compulsion to continue reading till answers are found.

Character-wise, I actually like the transformation of Elend Venture as he struggled with his political ideals in the face of necessity. And I couldn’t help feeling for TenSoon, the kandra who was loyal to Vin till the end. It probably helped that he took the form of a wolfhound most of the time.

I was sorry when the story came to an end, and you bet I will be re-reading it again in the near future.

VERDICT: If you’re a fantasy buff, BUY THE SERIES!

For those who want to know a little about the story line, here’s an overview from bookdepository.com:

Tricked into releasing the evil spirit Ruin while attempting to close the Well of Ascension, new emperor Elend Venture and his wife, the assassin Vin, are now hard-pressed to save the world. This adventure brings the Mistborn epic fantasy trilogy to a dramatic and surprising climax as Sanderson’s saga offers complex characters and a compelling plot, asking hard questions about loyalty, faith and responsibility.