One of my favorites is Stein on Writing by Sol Stein. Stein has written novels, poetry, screenplays, and tv dramas. He also created the computer software WritePro, FirstAid for Writers and FictionMaster.
Often when I'm reading a book, I'll underline favorite quotes. And if I really like something, I'll make note of it on the inside cover of the book. What's scribbled on the inside of Stein on Writing?
- pg. 36 -- list for drafting a first paragraph
When I turn to page 36, I find these questions:
- Does your first sentence trigger curiosity to make the reader want to continue?
- What will the reader see in that first sentence?
- Have you focused on an individual?
- Have you given us a visible characteristic of that individual?
- Have you portrayed the individual doing or saying something?
- Is there a startling or odd fact that will trap attention?
When you think about it, those are good questions to ask whether you're writing fiction or non-fiction. Shouldn't every writer trigger curiosity and make a reader want to continue? Shouldn't every writer paint some sort of picture for the reader?
I had another notation for page 56. You might want to go buy Stein on Writing and find out what Stein had to say that was worth taking notes on.
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