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The Value of Non-Fiction

I am currently reading On Writing Horror: A Handbook by the Horror Writers Association edited by Mort Castle. While in CA, a friend of mine saw the book on the bed and asked why I was reading it. "You don't need any help writing horror," he said.

This is true in one sense but very much not true in another. I believe you can always learn something from another person's perspective. Most times, the more experienced the perspective, the better the thoughts—but not always. So, while I can write horror and do a good job at it, I can always learn more about the craft of writing, the psychology of writing horror and where some good resources are.

Non-fiction books are excellent sources of both information and inspiration. The more you learn about a certain topic, the better you can use that information in a fiction story. I think that's why I love shows like "How It's Made" and "Antique Roadshow"—both programs teach the viewer something. On the former, you can learn the intimate details of production for everyday items. On the latter, you can learn some of the most fascinating history of ordinary things.

That's why I like reading books on writing, the craft itself, getting an agent and being published. I am always learning something new or different about the profession I am in. In the book, On Writing Horror, one contributor challenges the reader to write something that terrifies them. This resonated with me because recently I did not want to remember a dream because it affected me so. But, I remember pieces of it and they still scare me. I don't want to write about them but now, I'm pondering the idea because I wonder if I can transfer my personal sense of dread to the paper and thus the reader.

It's the non-fiction book's ability to make me sit back and ponder that I appreciate above all else.

Comments

( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
mrissa
Jan. 26th, 2010 12:34 am (UTC)
Yes, exactly. If we had nothing left to learn, why would we still be writing? We could just write the One True Best Story Evar--or even the One Best Story We Can Tell--and then move on to perfect some other art form. The minute you have nothing left to learn, you're stagnating. And the work deserves better than that.
a_r_williams
Jan. 26th, 2010 05:07 am (UTC)
"Non-fiction books are excellent sources of both information and inspiration. The more you learn about a certain topic, the better you can use that information in a fiction story."

I agree with this.

" I think that's why I love shows like "How It's Made" and "Antique Roadshow"—both programs teach the viewer something."

I like watching the Behind the Scenes that come on DVDs. Often you can look at scenes that were deleted and find out why they made the choice to remove it.

It can teach you small things about the story and story telling.

brent_kellmer
Jan. 26th, 2010 05:10 am (UTC)
How is that book, btw? -- I saw a copy and was considering it.
jennifer_brozek
Jan. 26th, 2010 07:29 am (UTC)
It is very good. Good history, good philosophy, good advice. It is not for the nascent horror writer really but it does point the newbie at some good resources. Worth the money I paid and I'm halfway through.
kmarkhoover
Jan. 26th, 2010 01:39 pm (UTC)
I also have that book on writing horror, it's very good.
( 5 comments — Leave a comment )