The Little Red Writing Book

The Little Red Writing Book

Mark Tredinnick

Language: English

Pages: 265

ISBN: 0868408670

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


“Reading The Little Red Writing Book is the next best thing to participating in a workshop taught by one of the wisest, most gifted and ingenious writing teachers you could hope to find—precisely what Mark Tredinnick is.” (Michael Pollan, In Defense of Food)

Part meditation on the writing craft, part writing primer, part cry for grace, part manifesto, The Little Red Writing Book is a manual for everyone who wants to write, or has to write, and wants to do it better. It’s a book about how to make beautiful sense on paper—a lively and readable guide to lively and readable writing, creative and functional.

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is the name we give to the work of making sentences grammatical and various, each apt in its form for the story it tells and the way it needs to tell it. Composition, further, is the labour of building paragraphs out of these sentences, varying their form to keep the paragraph lively; to keep the reader awake; and to advance the story, as it ought to be advanced. (More about that in the final chapter.) What follows is a short guide to sentence styles. Sentencing 85 A writer may use all, and a

nuance to writing. It allows modulation Sentencing 99 and subtlety of connection, especially useful in dealing with psychology and character in story and with exposition and argument in other narratives. It brings to the sentence the gearshift, the key change, the piano and the forte. There are, believe it or not, four species of subordinating sentence, each an instance of the complex sentence. Then, beyond those, is the compound–complex sentence and all the incredible variety it introduces. 7

to get them right and tell them in the language in which they are, as it were, performed. The same is true for the words we need for places—use the words the locals use for their trees, flatlands and ranges.We owe the places and their people that kind of care. So listen up. Study the field you’re writing about. Teach yourself the words for the tools and tasks; make sure you know their meanings. Remember your reader; explain what you think needs explaining. But don’t explain too much. It’s okay to

remembered life or locale or moment—and invites a reader into it. There—in a space the reader participates in shaping, since she makes it in her mind out of the words the writer uses—the reader will find not just a plot or a bunch of information and images; she will, if she’s lucky and the telling is good and beautiful and true, discover something, more shapely but less exact than a thesis, about the nature of grief or love or time or land or desire or memory or childhood or death, something she

and a green clockwork of waterways and grasses, held up to the sky in its ring of ridges, held up for the sky to listen, too. The granite boulder is only there to hold it down. —James Galvin, The Meadow Poetics 175 Don’t work your metaphors too hard. The writing project is to tell how things are, not what they’re like. (That’s what Henry was reminding me: it’s like a clock, but it is this meadow.) Simile, in particular, that distracts us from the thing itself fails its subject. So, too,

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