The Soul of Creative Writing
"I have a faith in language," said the poet W. S. Merwin. "It's the ultimate achievement that we as a species have evolved so far." Language is a deep ocean of living words, as varied as undersea life. It is a gift inherited by each person when he or she is born; it can be corrupted and regulated, but it cannot be owned. It is an enormous, complex, inexhaustible gift. The Soul of Creative Writing is a tribute to language and to its potentials. It explores the elements of language, style, rhythm, sound, and the choice of the right word. Richard Goodman paints an image of how language can produce a life and meaning that otherwise cannot exist in the symbols themselves.
Goodman's stunningly creative collection was written after a lifetime of working and struggling with language. He collects rich examples from writers of the past and present, both great and small, and uses them to illustrate how each element of our written language can be used. The book begins with an analysis of words and how they can be used to create music on the page. Goodman uncovers the strength of words, writing about the shades of meaning that make the search for the exact word both arduous and immensely rewarding. He discusses how to find the proper title and how to find a fitting subject. He show how to create nonfiction work that is vivid and memorable through the use of the same techniques fiction writers employ.
Goodman's volume is written with humor and clarity—with fascination and reverence. Writers will find it an indispensable source of creative inspiration and instruction. In Goodman's words, "reading is a tour of a writer's efforts at manipulating language to create art, to create flesh and blood and mountains, cities, homes, and gardens out of inky symbols on the page." To literary critics, this book will be a guide to understanding the tools and devices of great writing.
"This book is not just for writers then, but for lovers of words and writing. For renewing my excitement about what I've chosen to do for a living, this book deserves 13 exclamation marks."
—The Writer Magazine
"A first rate handbook for aspiring authors of any type of creative writing, be it short stories, novels, or poetry, "The Soul of Creative Writing" is a must for any community library collections gathering books on writing. "
—Midwest Book Review
"Richard Goodman's creative collection was written after a lifetime of working with language: it gathers examples from writers past and present, great and small, which illustrate how different elements of written language can be used and analyzes words for effective structure. As such THE SOUL OF CREATIVE WRITING should be considered a top pick for any library strong in teaching creative writing, whether at the college or high school grade levels."
"Richard Goodman's marvelous book, The Soul of Creative Writing, will instruct, delight, edify, challenge, reassure, and guide any student of writing to a personal best. The Soul of Creative Writing is a wonderbook of meditative instruction. Goodman's sympathy for the writer's dilemma, the warmth of his urging, the brightness of his enthusiasm all remind us that courage lies inside encouragement. We can find courage to write here, and support from all Goodman's tips and insights. Like the best teaching from the most inspired teachers, it's simply invaluable."
—Molly Peacock, author of Cornucopia and Paradise, Piece by Piece
"Who needs another book on writing? If it's this one, you do. Richard Goodman examines—with the same curiosity, wit, and good sense that characterized his gem of a memoir, French Dirt—the soul of the writer's life. There is so much to admire about this book: Goodman's respect for the secret strength of words, his awe of "the nerve of poetry," his ear for the music of prose, his love of the puzzles and pleasures of punctuation, and his deep understanding of the malleability of technique. Though The Soul of Creative Writing is full of both aesthetic and practical advice, Goodman wears his erudition lightly in these ten lessons in grace, clarity, and sense of purpose. I loved this book and will keep it nearby when my own well has run dry and I need inspiration, prodding, or reminding that writing is both vocation and delight, worthy of a life's dedication."
—K. L. Cook, author of The Girl from Chanelle and Last Call
"Any writer should read all these delicate, dear essays who wants to write anything better than she or he has done before, be it fiction, essay, poem or merely sentence. Who would guess that ideas about language and literature could be expressed so gracefully? Richard Goodman's essays do not blanket the subject of writing; rather they offer us peep holes through which we glimpse sunny mysteries. Blink and look again."
—Sena Jeter Naslund, author of Abundance, a Novel of Marie Antoinette and Ahab's Wife
"If every writer knew and loved words the way Richard Goodman knows and loves words, the world would be a far better place."
—Erin McKean, Editor, Verbatim
"A passionate, smart and often profound exploration of the craft and art of creative writing. Anyone serious about writing will learn from this book."
— Alex S. Jones, Pulitzer Prize winner, director, Shorenstein Center on the Press at Harvard University
"Including well-selected examples from literature throughout, this book will serve as a supplement for the modesty accomplished and a reminder for the more experienced. It should prompt experimentation with rhythm, sound, diction, and metaphor. Recommended. All readers, all levels. —G.W. Clift, Choice