God this What If? book sucks. There are about 110 exercises in the book and most of them either don't apply, need a group to work, are below what I've already learned, or are just gay. First the book is for college students who want to workshop stories. Workshopping's discouraged by most authors in the first place, and I don't want to workshop anyway. What I want is tips and tricks on how to make stories better or create ideas for stories. It keeps citing works that I've never read and don't want to read, and they keep thinking I should emulate these people. It thinks I should be like a Faulkner or Kafka. I couldn't be like them even if I tried. I don't want to be a Faulkner, I want to be a Scalzi. I want to be entertaining and meaningful. I don't necessarily want to make art. I'd rather make comic strips than Picassos. It expects me to have read and love Gabriel Garcia Marquez and John Gardner and tons of other books I've never heard of and have no desire to. It makes writing like it's some transcendental experience where you get to meet God and all the people you've loved who've died, and you get to see through time. I wonder if King ever did exercises like "Rewrite The Fairy Queene like Tom Wolfe". It kinda contradicts with 'write what you know'. And the short stories it puts in the back for posterity, god are they awful, I can barely make it through them. And a few times, I can't. And there is NOTHING in the book at all about sci-fi or fantasy. Nothing, it's like it doesn't exist for them. There are only stories that take place in the real world with real characters, with symbology and underlying tones and bullshit like that. Boring. I've got to write what I want to read, and this book is letting me very well. Oh, there are quite a few pages I've dog-eared, I intend to go back to them. But if you're looking hard at this What If? book, thinking about getting it, you'd be better off reading a book about writing itself. What I really want is two things - ways to develop characters and ways to develop plot. That's all I really need, I think that's all anyone really needs. After that, you can pretty much consider yourself on your own.
Labels: What If?, writing