I loved it. More than How to Grow a Novel which I thought was only good.
Stein on Writing is packed with useful tips to improve one’s writing. Written by a master editor and writer Stein sits perched on the top left hand pages of your book as you read. He’s sharing his experience with you and you feel so blessed that he’s made himself available.
Stein made me laugh. Actually making me laugh is insignificant compared to his ability to make me see myself and my life in terms of a script. In chapter 7 Stein invites you to join him at the Actors Studio where some of the most talented stage and film directors worked, back in the day. He tells us of a briefing Elia Kazan gave him before he was to improvise a scene with no script with another actress.
Elia Kazan gave Sol Stein a tip. He gave the other actress a tip as well. Till afterward nobody knew what he hat told him. But when the scene erupted it as though two Rottweilers were turned loose on each other. Okay, I’m exaggerating. There was no physical contact but still two actors where now on stage vehemently tangling with each other.
The catalyst for great acting was the script. Though there was no physical script to be read from, no lines to be practiced verbatim, Kazan had whispered Stein his script. Mainly that he was the principal of a private school for the privileged and that the mother of one expelled child was coming to get the boy reinstated despite his continuous disruptive behaviour. The principal was not to reinstate the boy under any circumstances.
But Kazan also whispered something to the other actress – that she was the mother of a star pupil who always behaves and who has been disgraced for no reason at all. She was to insist the principal accept him back into school immediately.
Fascinating. Think of the possibilities of heightening the drama in your writing using this technique!
In addition if one can also see the dimension of their own life – their script and the script of others – would this awareness would it not help her/him build and navigate through the pages of their own living story?
But back to Stein. Stein on Writing is a refreshing read to help you get your writing goal on track to publication. From tips on getting that first sentence and first paragraph right to helpful advice on revision and locating assistance. Stein’s your man.
But my favourite line in the book?
“When you get the good news of a book contact, let me know and share the pleasure.”
I just hope it happens in his lifetime.