Telling Lies for Fun & Profit Paperback – Feb 25 1994
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It's a good thing Lawrence Block is so friendly and generous with his writing advice. Otherwise, you'd just have to hate the guy. After all, it took him a mere two weeks to write his first novel. He was still a teenager at the time, and he promptly sold it to Fawcett, the first publisher to see it. What can a guy like that tell the rest of us about fiction writing that could possibly apply to our lives? Lots, actually. Telling Lies for Fun & Profit comprises four years' worth of Block's monthly fiction-writing column from Writer's Digest magazine. In it, Block turns his witty, welcoming prose to many aspects of the writing life, including collaboration, which Block maintains he does "largely as a means of avoiding work"; speed writing (surprise: "Sometimes a book or story will be better for having been written more rapidly"); the benefits of using strong verbs; and the importance of good character names.
As one might expect from a man who seems to have such a facile way with the typewriter, Block can make writing seem a lot easier than it does in real life. "If you write one page a day," he says, "you will produce a substantial novel in a year.... Don't you figure you could produce one measly little page, even on a bad day? Even on a rotten day?"
Still, just because he's published about, oh, 50 books, don't think Block considers novel writing to be all fun and profit. "Those of us who are driven to produce great quantities of manuscript don't necessarily get any real pleasure out of the act," he says. "It's just that we feel worse when we don't write." --Jane Steinberg
"Lawrence Block is a writer's best friend. He is wise, he is funny, and, to tell the truth, he is damn helpful. When best friends and mothers fail, read this book." -- Martin Cruz SmithSee all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
I really like Block's conversational style. I know this is cliche, but I often feel as if he could be speaking directly to me and addressing my own problems. I find this, among other things, to be very comforting, thus allowing me to let go and just write.
He presents simple solutions to common problems, also inspiring me to go try them out, having never approached the problem in that way before.
I find this book to be very useful in my quest to be a writer, as he seems to have had the same problems I do. This sends the positive message that these problems are universal, and all you have to do is work your way through them, because ALL writers have the same issues to deal with. Also very comforting.
I would recommend this book to anyone struggling with the need to write but not finding the nerve to just settle down and do it; and also for anyone else just needing a little boost.
says she re-reads this book before commencing work on her next novel; better advice would be hard to come by for anyone who dares to commit fiction-writing.
I stumbled on the Block's book as I was writing my first two novels, FLU SEASON and LIKE DISTANT CITIES BURNING
(...)It's no stretch to say he probably deserves a co-byline on both my books, though I'll deny everything if he takes me to court. Still, Block provides any writer with advice and insight one can actually USE.
To quote from the jacket: "Characters refusing to talk? Plot plodding along? Where do good ideas come from, anyway? In this wonderfully practical volume, two-time Edgar Award-winning novelist Lawrence Block takes an inside look at
writing as a craft and as a career.
"From studying the market to mastering self-discipline and 'creative procrastination' through copying with rejections, Telling Lies For Fun & Profit is an invaluable sourcebook of information..."
The book itself is a collection of the fiction columns Block did for Writer's Digest in between penning more than 30 books, many of them bestsellers.
I learned something new on almost every page, and something valuable even more often.
And it does have good advice on writing a novel. But I found it was more about being a writer writing a novel than on the actual contents of the novel. Hmmm. That may not be very clear. This book is loaded with wonderful, practical, inspiring anecdotes and snippets of experience on writing. But it does not tell you about story construction, which was what I was looking for.
Reading the book did help keep me motivated and added some clarity to my impression of the novel writing world. But I found books by Frey, McKee, Vogler, Lew Hunter, Syd Field and James Bonnet much more helpful when it came to the nitty gritty of creating stories.
So.... if you are looking for practical information about the writing life, about the process of writing-- this book is a gem. If you want details on story structure, character development, etc., check out some of the above mentioned authors.
To date, I have read this book three times and every time I go through it, I learn something. Used to be working on screenplays but changed to novels recently. Out of my 15 books on novel writing, this was the first one I picked up for review.
Learn why the short story should be tossed out for writing a novel instead; how to deal with rejection; what qualities you need for writing fiction; how to work at your book (this is several chapters), how to whip yourself into state even when you don't want to write and so much more. Great quoutes, too.
First book you should get on teaching yourself to write novels. Runner up would be WRITING AND SELLING YOUR NOVEL by Jack Brickam.
Most recent customer reviews
A lot of great and useful stuff in this pretty old book on writing. It is a series of articles that Block wrote for Writer's Digest and he has adapted them and put them in themed... Read morePublished on Aug. 23 2009 by Amazon Customer
This book is a collection of monthly columns that Block had written for a writing magazine. They fit perfectly together to make a book that is easy to recommend to anyone who... Read morePublished on Jan. 21 2003 by M. Hamilton
Larry Block's treatises on writing are every bit the page turners that his mysteries are. He demystifies the writing process and walks you through the basics.Published on March 22 2002
So you're at home, sitting in front of your computer or typewriter, and you're stuck on what to write next. No problem. Read morePublished on June 23 1999