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Becoming a Writer [Paperback]

Dorothea Brande
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (48 customer reviews)
RRP: 12.99
Price: 11.46 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

1 Jan 1981
Describes a writer's temperament and how to develop a writer's habits, originality, and insight, imitate exemplary works, read critically, and overcome writing difficulties. This guide to becoming a writer was originally published in 1934. It focuses not just on plotting techniques or prose style, but on the process of developing the habits and discipline of a writer, with beating writer's block, reading to improve one's writing and other psychological techniques. Refreshingly slim, beautifully written and deliciously elegant, Dorothea Brande's BECOMING A WRITER remains evergreen decades after it was first written. Brande believed passionately that although people have varying amounts of talent, anyone can write. It's just a question of finding the "writer's magic" - a degree of which is in us all. She also insists that writing can be both taught and learned. So she is enraged by the pessimistic authors of so many writing books who rejoice in trying to put off the aspiring writer by constantly stressing how difficult it all is. With close reference to the great writers of her day - Wolfe, Forster, Wharton and so on - Brande gives practical but inspirational advice about finding the right time of day to write and being very self disciplined about it - "You have decided to write at four o'clock, and at four o'clock you must write." She's strong on confidence building and there's a lot about cheating your unconscious which will constantly try to stop you writing by coming up with excuses. Then there are exercises to help you get into the right frame of mind and to build up writing stamina.

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Becoming a Writer + Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within + On Writing
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Product details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Jeremy P Tarcher (1 Jan 1981)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0874771641
  • ISBN-13: 978-0874771640
  • Product Dimensions: 20.1 x 13.2 x 1.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (48 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 23,414 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Amazon Review

Refreshingly slim, beautifully written and deliciously elegant, Dorothea Brande's Becoming a Writer remains evergreen decades after it was first written. Brande believed passionately that although people have varying amounts of talent, anyone can write. It's just a question of finding the "writer's magic"--a degree of which is in us all. She also insists that writing can be both taught and learned. So she is enraged by the pessimistic authors of so many writing books who rejoice in trying to put off the aspiring writer by constantly stressing how difficult it all is.

With close reference to the great writers of her day--Wolfe, Forster, Wharton and so on--Brande gives practical but inspirational advice about finding the right time of day to write and being very self disciplined about it--"You have decided to write at four o'clock, and at four o'clock you must write." She's strong on confidence building and there's a lot about cheating your unconscious which will constantly try to stop you writing by coming up with excuses. Then there are exercises to help you get into the right frame of mind and to build up writing stamina.

This edition comes with an informative foreword by the late Malcolm Bradbury, a man who knew a thing or two about teaching writing, having pioneered the innovative MA course in creative writing at the University of East Anglia which nurtured, among many other writers, Rose Tremain, Ian McEwan and Kazuo Ishiguro. It's a pity, however, that Brande (and Bradbury) define "writing" so narrowly. They refer only to novels and short stories--ignoring biography, travel writing, plays, poems, essays and reportage. In fact, Brande is unreasonably dismissive of journalism as if it were just an uncreative, prostituted form of "real" writing. --Susan Elkin --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
So, having made my apologies, and stated my belief, I am going, from now on, to address myself solely to those who hope to write. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
91 of 93 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Don't think about it - buy it. 11 Jun 2005
Format:Paperback
I can't believe I'm the first person to reivew this book which has to be one of the best known and best loved of all 'how to' books ever written. It does not tell you how to write - it tells you how to become a writer and it's probably best to read it before you start writing. It tells you how to balance your writing life with the rest of your life, and how to keep your editorial self and your creative self working in harmony. It gives you exercises to develop the writing habit and, quite early on, it does something so brave, I've not seen it repeated in any other guide. It tells you, if you can't manage the exercises, to stop.
"If you fail repeatedly at this exercise, give up writing. Your resistance is actually greater than your desire to write, and you may as well find some other outlet for your energy early as late."
Right, now why was that so refreshing? Becuase she wrote it in 1934 and we're no longer used to such straight talking. Almost makes you feel like a grown up.
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50 of 51 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
I have been a published writer for eight years, and I must have read a mountain of books on writing. Dorothea Brande's book is without any question the most helpful of them all.
I would go as far as saying it is the ONLY book that has made any real impact on my work. If you have always wanted to be a writer but have lacked a certain confidence, or energy, read this book. If you are already a successful writer but find your work a stuggle, read this book.
Dorothea Brande is a very clever woman who shows in her book an unmatched understanding of the psychology of a writer - and uses this understanding to expertly encouage the reader's development. A strict but nurturing teacher, many great writers have and will benefit from her work.
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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback
This book will not tell you how to write a great novel. Nor the secrets to plot and character development. What this book will do is help you make the most of those tendencies that impel you to want to write. Written in the 1920's and still popular now, this is a vital tool for those wanting to enhance whatever compulsion to write that they already possess. Buy this book and begin to write. You never know where it will get you. And never, ever, let technical quandries mire your creative spirit.
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good, concrete advice 26 Sep 2000
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
If you want to write but are not sure what to write about, this is the book for you. It helps you get into the habit of effortless daily writing and, at the same time, discover what you need to write about. It also teaches the trick to make the words rush to your pen: wordless recreation. Read this one before entering a writing class or reading books on technique and style.
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31 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars GREAT MOTIVATIONAL BOOK 20 Nov 2000
Format:Paperback
Despite the fact that this book was written in 1934 it is perhaps one of the most useful books to have on your bookshelf in terms of writing. It deals with the nuts and bolts of getting down to the task of writing consistently and offers essential advice on overcoming psychological blocks to writing. Even though some of the advice may be slightly outdated its essential message is not. If you are looking for ways to motivate yourself to write consistently this is the book.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The One, The Only Writer's Guide 13 April 2006
Format:Paperback
There is only one guide on how to become a fully fledged writer of fiction and this is it. The rest are footnotes. First published in 1934, it is still published because it works. Many have used it, some have plagiarised it (the Artist's Way being chief among suspects) none have bettered it. There's only one book that can help the budding author as much and that is McKee's "Story".
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars for writers in their dreams still 23 July 1999
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
This was written in the 1930s. O.K. let that put you off if you want...but you'll be missing out - because it's a sure bet that all the modern writers telling you how to be inspired from within have got their ideas from Dorothea Brande. It's padded out (but doesn't actually lose a lot through this), and it shows its age (But only through talk of typewriters 'stead of compies). This is the true writer's bible - because it tells you how to FIND your writers instinct. And if you've always longed to write, then you've probably already got it and will be much pleased with yourself! - if not, get it out now with this book! I'm not sure if it would be all that suitable for those who are already writing, but it's certainement a must for aspiring writers. If you believe you're already a writer, but have never written anything (or anything decent), or even if you haven't reached this first stage of ACTING like a writer yet, get this book!! This is the first stage to BECOMING a real, true writer, GET THE TECHNICAL BOOKS LATER. I dip in for inspiration - and I adore being a writer all the more for it.
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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
When I read this book I felt as if DB was talking about me. Almost everything she said seemed to relate directly to my own experience. She mentions stages I know I have passed through, and problems I experience now. I felt as if she was a friend who really understood - who was willing to take me by the hand and explain to me the mysteries of a writer's psyche, and how to harness my talent. Unlike other books on writing I have read I really didn't want to put it down - I felt addicted to her wisdom and the crystal clarity of her insights. I have heard many people recommend this book, and once I had read it I understood why. If you want to write fiction, I really think you should read it too.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent book
This book helps one become a writer from the inside out. The way the writer approaches the subject shows clearly that she had a very good grasp on the inner workings of the... Read more
Published 5 days ago by Marios Pagonis
5.0 out of 5 stars A classic
So glad I bought this. I am happy just knowing I have it to read and follow, even if I am so busy with kids I can't actually follow it all just yet.
Published 2 months ago by Sarah Lyons
5.0 out of 5 stars Uncomfortably Brilliant
I laughed out loud at this book. The advice, while absolutely spot on is even years later, is quite often on the verge of being totally rude. That said the truth hurts right? Read more
Published 2 months ago by S Winspur
4.0 out of 5 stars Esoteric but Interesting.
This is quintessentially pre WW2 in it's approach, having been first published in 1936. The writing will, therefore, seem quite dated to the modern reader. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Wendy Jones
5.0 out of 5 stars A really useful book.
This is really good for novice writers. Lots of useful tips and advice. I would definitely recommend it to anyone who thinks they would like to try writing.
Published 4 months ago by Mrs Joanne Deakin
5.0 out of 5 stars Unleash your creativity.
This is a marvellous book for releasing budding writers from fear and doubt about their ability and from their own innate laziness and procrastination. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Aletheuon
4.0 out of 5 stars A book to help with writer's block
For the budding writer this book is helpful. One can get tied up when trying to become an author, with such things as is the structure of the book correct, has the plot gone... Read more
Published 5 months ago by Helen Green
5.0 out of 5 stars A classic of the genre often copied to this day
Imagine a great aunt who likes the odd nip of whisky and who talks with cheeky southern drawl. She sits you down when you tell her you want to be a writer and she says, "Well... Read more
Published 6 months ago by Frank Coles
5.0 out of 5 stars educational
a very good book for aspiring writers. useful tips and information throughout. well written without being too heavy a read
Published 8 months ago by julie tasane
5.0 out of 5 stars Golden oldie
I was sceptical about buying another book in the 'how to write a book' genre but Dorothea Brande intrigued me: An editor of The Chicago Tribune, she was born in 1893 and wrote... Read more
Published 9 months ago by H. Price
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