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Is any one interested in doing a "book club"?

Discussion in 'Novels & Stories' started by Heliotrope, Apr 6, 2016.

  1. Heliotrope

    Heliotrope Staff Article Team

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    I've been wanting to post this for some time. Is anyone interested in doing a book club?

    I was thinking it would be nice to get together (here, obviously) and read some truly classic fantasy, or popular fantasy or whatever, and discuss the author's various strategies for characterization, plot, world building, tension etc and how they relate to writing our own stories?

    It would be nice to explore a range of sub genres and authors that we may not otherwise try.

    Would anyone be interested in that? We could do a new book every month or two with discussion and questions on a weekly basis?

    Thank this post if you are interested :)
     
    Last edited: Apr 6, 2016
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  2. Devor

    Devor Fiery Keeper of the Hat Moderator

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    I think that's a great idea, although it's one that we've tried to get going once or twice before.

    To me, when I pick up a book nowadays, I do so wondering what I can learn from it as a writer. I think it would be cool to pick out books and discuss them based on what we hope to learn from them.
     
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  3. Heliotrope

    Heliotrope Staff Article Team

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    Thanks Devor, I do exactly the same, and I think breaking out and reading some different stuff, while at the same time having the opportunity to discuss it with others can be a very valuable learning experience.
     
  4. skip.knox

    skip.knox Staff Moderator

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    I'm willing to try. I have a bad track record for reading clubs. Somehow, even though I'm retired, I find myself busier than ever, and it's difficult for me not to regard reading as time away from writing.

    But I do like the angle of reading a book with a writer's eye, and discussing it from that perspective.
     
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  5. Caged Maiden

    Caged Maiden Staff Article Team

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    If it weren't for the last book club, I would never have read Prince of Thorns, so I think it's a great idea, one that'll introduce to folks some books they've never read. Unfortunately, I understand that committing to reading with a group isn't for me, since I had a hard time keeping up last time we did this. But still, there were things I liked about the structure of the last book club, so I'd encourage you, Heliotrope, to read our old posts from it? We voted on what to read, and I think it was categorized in some way. Anyways, it was organized really nicely, it was me that couldn't keep up. :) Best wishes!
     
  6. spectre

    spectre Mystagogue

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    I'm interested, been gone from the forums for a while nice post to walk into.

    Sent from my HTC Desire 626s using Tapatalk
     
  7. Devor

    Devor Fiery Keeper of the Hat Moderator

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    I think it would be kind of cool to make a specific list of books to read that each help us focus on one thing as a writer, like good dialogue or humor or themes. Maybe we could vote on a topic, or pick one of three books chosen for the topic, but I think having that kind of direction and structure would make the project more worthwhile. Give the group a name. Anything to look like we have a concrete plan will help get people on board.

    I also think you could ask Black Dragon about announcing it on the home page - maybe you could write an article on why this is such a good idea. It would drum up interest and maybe draw new people to the community.
     
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  8. Heliotrope

    Heliotrope Staff Article Team

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    Yep. That was my plan anyway (the structure). Thanks for chiming in. Ok, I will throw together a write up and proposal for Black Dragon re: how writing and reading are interconnected and how reading to beings writer is as essential as eating to being a chef....

    I'll do that tonight...
     
  9. Heliotrope

    Heliotrope Staff Article Team

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    If anyone has any suggestions or past experiences they want to share as I build this group, I would love to hear them!
     
  10. Heliotrope

    Heliotrope Staff Article Team

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    Ok, I have some time now to think about this stuff, so I figured I'd post some thought in case anyone had feedback.

    I was wondering your thoughts on type of books covered. Having a Masters in English and having taught lit for the past ten years I see the benefit in covering a vast spectrum of genres and a variety of writing styles, however, I'm thinking that because this is a fantasy writers forum that most people are more interested in the fantasy side of things? Or do you think that people would be interested in studying sci-fi, speculative fiction, dystopian fiction, or supernatural fiction as well, as long as they are examples of whatever particular topic we have chosen?

    I was hoping to structure the reading group in a similar way that I structure my English classes (but without the essays and homework, obviously. This would be more just round table discussion.) when I teach writing I usually focus on 5 key traits:

    Ideas/theme: specifically use of symbolism, metaphor, how characterization and setting and plot feed into supporting the ideas/theme in order to create an emotional response in the reader. For this series I might choose something with a more literary feel:

    - The Book Of The New Sun Gene Wolfe
    - Lyonesse Jack Vance
    - American Gods Neil Gaiman


    Organization: looking at a variety of structures (3 act, heroes journey, pantsing vs. Plotting) and how authors use a variety of strategies to organize their chapters or ideas for greatest effect.

    Voice: looking at writer voice, narrative voice or POV and how the personality, opinions, and judgements behind the writing can make it more real and engaging. When writers choose to deep POV and when they choose to remain omniscient and why.

    Conventions: looking at peices that would be considered non-conventional, either in regards to structure, or POV, or setting.

    Word Choice: looking at a richly descriptive style vs. A sparse modern style.

    Within these categories we would discuss methods of character development, dialogue, setting and world building, use of humour and tragedy and the balance between each. The author's use of scene/sequel (if used) etc as well as whatever topics happen to be addressed in conversation.

    Thoughts on this set up? Suggestions for books that you think should be covered?
     
  11. Heliotrope

    Heliotrope Staff Article Team

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    Mock up:

    Anatomy of Fiction: A Reading Group for Writers

    Reading does not make you a writer.

    That's an odd piece of advice, isn't it? "All you need to do is read and write to be a writer." You don't learn to write through reading anymore than you learn carpentry by sitting in a chair. You learn to write by writing. And, when you do read something, you learn by dissecting it - what is the author doing? How are the characters and plot drawn together? You must read critically - That is the key.


    - Chuck Wendig

    Welcome to Anatomy of Fiction, a reading group specifically for writers. Here at AOF we don't just read great books, we dissect them with more fervour than the scalpel happy Goth kid dissected his foetal pig in twelfth grade Biology.

    Almost every great author doles out the same tired advice to novice writers:

    "If you don't have the time to read, you don't have the time to write."
    - Stephen King

    But sometimes simply reading is not enough. In order to learn to write from reading we need to learn to read with the critical eye of the writer. It is not enough to know simply what an author is doing in a text, we need to know why and how he is doing it.

    Reading groups can add a whole new dimension to your writing process. By branching out and reading a variety of genres, authors and mediums you can be inspired to solves problems in your own writing in ways you may have never thought possible.

    The Anatomy of Fiction reading group is an informal, non-committal reading group. You choose what months you want to participate.

    Each month we will choose a book to study and discuss using the microscopic lenses of these five categories:
    Ideas/theme: specifically use of symbolism, metaphor, how characterization and setting and plot feed into supporting the ideas/theme in order to create an emotional response in the reader.


    Organization: looking at a variety of structures (3 act, heroes journey, pantsing vs. Plotting) and how authors use a variety of strategies to organize their chapters or ideas for greatest effect.

    Voice: looking at writer voice, narrative voice or POV and how the personality, opinions, and judgements behind the writing can make it more real and engaging. When writers choose to deep POV and when they choose to remain omniscient and why.

    Conventions: looking at peices that would be considered non-conventional, either in regards to structure, or POV, or setting.

    Word Choice: looking at a richly descriptive style vs. A sparse modern style.

    Within these categories we would discuss methods of character development, dialogue, setting and world building, use of humour and tragedy and the balance between each. The author's use of scene/sequel (if used), common genre tropes, etc as well as whatever topics happen to be addressed in conversation.

    If you feel that dissecting, analyzing and discussing fiction with a group of peers in an informal, round table setting is just what you need to branch out and take that next step in your own writing, then grab a lab coat and a scalpel and get ready to get messy!
     
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  12. Devor

    Devor Fiery Keeper of the Hat Moderator

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    So, the list I usually consider is: Creativity, Structure, Voice and Theme. That's a list I came up with trying to figure out article topics for the Article Team here. Yours is pretty similar, but I'm not sure I understand why Word Choice is separate from Voice. I also find something about the word "conventions" a little off-putting.

    We're entering into the Spring right now, so the timing might not be right for starting a Book Club. People are usually a little less active here during the warmer months. But maybe putting together even three or four people might be enough if they're the right people to get it started with.

    In my opinion, book selection is everything. For instance I made a list at the start of the year of authors I wanted to read next, and at the top was Terry Pratchett, Neil Gaiman and Steven King, each to focus on different things. But it was basically, "I'm trying to be a fantasy writer. Where's the list of must-reads that I need to be looking at? Where's the reading list for fantasy 101?" I'm not trying to say this what you should do. There's a lot of people who might want to join a book club who have already read through the "Fantasy 101" and might not be interested in that. But the book list is what will define the club and determine who will want to join. Pick it with purpose.

    Also, I wouldn't be so quick to cut the homework. Giving people a little to do is often what encourages people to do anything. For instance, if you have four people in the club, asking each person to write a paragraph or two about either creativity, theme, structure, or voice might be a good way to encourage involvement and give the discussion a little momentum.

    And I couldn't even begin to talk about how popular "book reviews from a writer's perspective" would be on the MS home page. It could be something to work towards.
     
    Last edited: Apr 9, 2016
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  13. Heliotrope

    Heliotrope Staff Article Team

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    Yep, I was thinking fantasy 101 as well, like the fantasy "must reads" and Giants for sure. Thats more what I would want to look at as well, for exactly the same reason as you. I did the same thing "ok, I want to write fantasy, what do I need to study? The Hobbit, Dune, Once and Future King, Mists of Avalon, American Gods, the list is crazy!"

    I googled "best all time fantasy" and got a pretty decent list, so that is where j would prefer to start...
     
  14. Devor

    Devor Fiery Keeper of the Hat Moderator

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  15. Heliotrope

    Heliotrope Staff Article Team

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    Exactly, and probably Narnia too.

    Ok, I will keeping working at this and have a good draft by Monday.
     
  16. Ireth

    Ireth Mythic Scribe

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    I couldn't get far into ASoIaF, personally. I think I made it to where Bran was thrown out the window before deciding this wasn't the series for me. Haven't seen the show either. LOTR, HP and Narnia, however, I will love forever.
     
  17. Devor

    Devor Fiery Keeper of the Hat Moderator

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    Hey, to each their own. It can be a tough book for sure. But I mean, at this point you've still decided not to read it - I don't think a book club would change that, would it?

    Also, sometimes it helps to ground a conversation with an example, and the "big three" are the go-tos that enough people are familiar with. It just helps to assume that people are at least familiar with them.
     
  18. FifthView

    FifthView Istari

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    I like the idea of a reading group, because I know that having that impetus to read more, and read more widely, could be really great for me generally. (I might be less likely to just switch on the t.v. and watch another episode of Inspector Lewis on Amazon Prime...)

    But I'm something of a commitment-phobe, not a joiner, and (especially) don't like structured environments. I'll leave to your imagination how this negatively effects my writing, not to mention so much else.

    So joining in reading and discussing a book would be great fun, but...Well, as silly as this may sound, I'm an Aquarius, and one of the descriptions is something like, "Often ignores anything that doesn't interest him." Although I'd love to make note of, and discuss, whatever feature of a book most grabs my attention, and might love joining in a conversation that highlights something I haven't noticed but that grabs my attention when pointed out to me, I might have comparatively little interest in 3 of the 5 Areas of Exploration for any given book. One obsesses over the tea leaves one finds most intriguing...So I might not be the best addition to such a group! :D
     
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  19. Heliotrope

    Heliotrope Staff Article Team

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    But you would be! Even if you only commented on one aspect it would still be interesting and valuable.
     
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  20. skip.knox

    skip.knox Staff Moderator

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    How about any of the following:

    Robert E Howard
    Tanith Lee
    Thomas Burnett Swann
    Jack Vance
    Peter Beagle
    Michael Moorcock
    Piers Anthony
    Diana Wynne Jones
    Marion Zimmer Bradley
    Neil Gaiman

    ???
     
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