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Steering the Craft: A Twenty-First-Century Guide to Sailing the Sea of Story Paperback – September 1, 2015
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“There is no better spirit in all of American letters than that of Ursula Le Guin.” — Slate
“Le Guin is a writer of enormous intelligence and wit, a master storyteller with the humor and force of a Twain. She creates stories for everyone from New Yorker literati to the hardest audience, children. She remakes every genre she uses.” — Boston Globe
From the Back Cover
There is no better spirit in all of American letters than that of Ursula Le Guin. Slate
Le Guin is a writer of enormous intelligence and wit, a master storyteller with the humor and force of a Twain. She creates stories for everyone from New Yorker literati to the hardest audience, children. She remakes every genre she uses. Boston Globe
A modernized, new edition of an essential guide to the writing craft, presented by a brilliant practitioner of the art
Completely revised and rewritten to address the challenges and opportunities of the modern era, this handbook is a short, deceptively simple guide to the craft of writing. The ten chapters shed light on the most fundamental components of narrative, from the sound of language to sentence construction to point of view. Each chapter combines illustrative examples from the global canon with Ursula Le Guin s own witty commentary and an exercise that the writer can do solo or in a group. Le Guin also offers a comprehensive guide to working in writing groups, both actual and online.
Masterly and concise, Steering the Craft deserves a place on every writer s shelf.
Over the course of her career, Ursula K. Le Guin has published more than sixty books of fiction, fantasy, children s literature, poetry, drama, criticism, and translation. She is the winner of many awards, including the PEN/Malamud Award and the National Book Foundation Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters."
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Top Customer Reviews
Overflowing with valuable insight and inspiration, 'Steering the Craft' is among the best single-volume works on writing I’ve ever read—and I’ve read a lot of them over the decades, positively devouring anything I can get my hands on. If Stephen King’s wonderful ‘On Writing’ is a helpful and encouraging introduction to the subject—call it Writing 101—Le Guinn offers a more advanced and rigorously focused 200-level course that will be most helpful to those already-experienced writers in search of self-improvement and a more acute understanding of how story works.
There is a difference, Le Guinn tells us, between the kind of straightforward expository prose we all learned to write in school, and the language of effective fiction—a distinction far too many aspiring storytellers have yet to grasp. The important thing for a writer, she says, “…is to know what you’re doing with your language and why.” She then proceeds to enlighten us in the most pleasing of ways, gently but firmly, never dogmatic, often with humor, stressing fundamentals without coming off as a snob or a “correctness bully”. “To break a rule you have to know the rule,” she says. “A blunder is not a revolution.”
Le Guinn challenges received and conventional wisdom at every turn. For instance, where Stephen King tells us that “the road to hell is paved with adverbs,” Le Guinn gently insists that adjectives and adverbs “add color, life, and immediacy … They cause obesity in prose only when used lazily or overused.” And again, she points out, “It’s a myth that short-sentence prose is ‘more like the way we speak’ … The marvelously supple connections of complex syntax are like the muscles and sinews of a long-distance runner’s body, ready to set up a good pace and keep going.” And there were so many more wonderful, refreshing observations throughout the book, I found myself obsessively marking and underlining to a point where my copy could never be resold—not that I would ever part with it!
I very much appreciate the way Le Guinn draws parallels between music and prose, stressing the essential importance of rhythm and the physical sound of language: “The similarity of … incremental repetition of word, phrase, image, and event in prose to recapitulation and development in musical structure is real and deep.” Elsewhere, punctuation is brilliantly demystified as it is likened to the use of rests in a musical score.
The volume is designed as a workbook, and includes a number of skill-enhancing exercises, with copious examples of the various concepts discussed, drawn from classic works from the Brontë sisters to Dickens, Hardy and Virginia Wolfe, always with fascinating, trenchant commentary from Le Guinn.
‘Steering the Craft’ is a treasure! Enthusiastically recommended.
Note this is not a guide for beginners. It doesn't cover setting, plot or character, except indirectly. This book is for those who have some concept of those, have written at least some pieces, and now want to refine their expression of setting, plot and character.
So if you have been writing and want to see how a great writer approaches the task of putting the best possible words on the page, illustrated by great and pertinent examples, Le Guin's volume will be something that will help you from the start and that you can return to time and again.
This book slipped under the radar. It's a slim, 140 pages but packed with lessons on style and craft. Le Guin comes at it from a workshop perspective and also assumes her students are at least moderately knowledgeable about writing. This isn't a "How to write your novel in one Setting" or "The Genre Writer's guide to Writing Genre": This is a condensed elixir of art and experience and maybe is not for a general audience. But I seriously think it's a great secret weapon to have in your arsenal if you are serious about your writing.
Ursula K. Le Guin is a masterful writer and one of the most eloquent about the work of making narrative. This short, easy-reading and very helpful book is as good as I expected it to be -- which is very good indeed.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Ursula K. Le Guin quotes (showing 1-30 of 1,307)
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