You Should Read This: About Writing by Samuel R. Delany

The cover of About Writing by Samuel R. Delany, a writing guide recommended by Cat Rambo.

Delany says: "A reasonable concern -- in many a worry; and in few a hope -- is whether a creative writing teacher wishes to teach her or his students to write the way he or she writes. Emphatically that is not my enterprise. But the agenda here is no less personal. The thrust of these pieces is to teach writers to produce works I would enjoy reading. "

I can’t think of a better book to begin with than a writing book I go back to over and over again, both for teaching and to apply to my own writing. Be aware that many of these essays are also contained in The Jewel-Hinged Jaw.

What: About Writing, by Samuel R. Delany, is a book of writing advice that includes seven essays, four letters, and five interviews. Two essays are ones I go back to over and over again, “Thickening the Plot,” and “Characters.”

Who: People who will enjoy this book include all manner of writers, as well as anyone interested in Delany’s own awesome fiction.

When: You should read this when you’re feeling uninspired about your own writing or if you want some assurance that “writing to discover” is as valid an approach as plotting things out thoroughly.

Why: Delany is one of the foremost SF writers of our time. His work speaks not just to those beginning to write, but those well along their path. If, like me, you love his fiction, you’ll find About Writing sheds new light on those works.

Where and how: Read it someplace quiet, where you have space to stare off into the distance, thinking about what Delany has said. Read it straight through or else do what I do and dip in at various places. No matter what angle your approach takes, it’ll be rewarding.

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About Cat

Cat Rambo lives, writes, and teaches by the shores of an eagle-haunted lake in the Pacific Northwest. Her 200+ fiction publications include stories in Asimov's, Clarkesworld Magazine, and the magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction. Her story, "Five Ways to Fall in Love on Planet Porcelain," from her collection Near + Far (Hydra House Books), was a 2012 Nebula nominee. Her editorship of Fantasy Magazine earned her a World Fantasy Award nomination in 2012. She is the current President of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA). She is currently working on Exiles of Tabat, the third book of the Tabat Quartet. A new story collection, Neither Here Nor There, appears from Hydra House this fall.
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