Thursday, March 11, 2010

Reading for Writers

I absolutely love books on how to write.  Almost to an obsession, at last count I had over twenty books on how to write a novel.  And even now, that's the first place I head to whenever I stop by the bookstore.  While not every method works for me, I take a little from this book, a little from that one and a bit from the other one and then add them up and get a method that does.  Here are a few of my favorites.

Writing the Breakout Novel by Donald Maass. As one of the top agents he knows what it takes to make a novel stand out above the crowd. The companion workbook gives you practical experience with building plot layers, creating in depth characters, building conflicts and much more. I have really enjoyed reading these and plan to come back to them as I get closer to completing my novel.

The Marshall Plan for Novel Writing by Evan Marshall. This is a “formula” for writing novels which doesn’t work for me but there are some good tips and ideas in it. This one also has a companion workbook with worksheets to develop the storyline. Marshall is also a top agent and the book has some good advice.

How to Write Science Fiction and Fantasy by Orson Scott Card. I thought I’d never write any science fiction but when the muse brought me a great sci-fi idea, well I had to listen to her. This is a practical book that I really enjoyed. And while I’m not quite ready to tackle any major sci-fi idea, reading this book made me feel not so in over my head. Plus, a lot of the information works for any genre so check this one out.

Writing for Story by Jon Franklin. This one I really, really enjoyed. Geared toward short stories it helps with getting an effective outline, writing the rough draft along with polishing tips that really make sense. Not only does he tell you how to make your writing better but he shows you with actual stories. Very helpful!

Creating Unforgettable Characters by Linda Seger. Written as a “practical guide to character development in films, tv series, advertisements, novels and short stories” it uses examples of characters we know to help us create characters that go beyond the stereotype. Geared toward screenwriting yet contains something anyone who creates characters can use.

The Writer’s Idea Workshop by Jack Heffron. This is a nifty book. Whether you have an inkling of an idea or none at all, this will help you take it to the next step. Each chapter gives you questions to consider and prompts to think about. I bought this one for myself as a Christmas gift, didn’t want to wait for hubby to get it:-)

The 10% Solution by Ken Rand. This is a small book packed full of editing how-to. Not only will your writing be much tighter, your editor will love you for cutting out all those useless words. You can find this book at Fairwood Press and it is completely worth the small cost.

Deadly Doses: a Writer’s Guide to Poisons by Serita Stevens. While this isn’t a “how-to” book I really enjoy browsing through it. Not only does it tell about drugs, poisons, toxic plants and animals, it gives the symptoms, reaction times, where you can find it, along with antidotes and treatment. Along the way you will find interesting tidbits such as when tiger whiskers are ground up and fed to a victim, they act the same as ground glass causing internal bleeding. I just know sometime I’m going to use that idea...a tiger whisker smoothie. Tasty but dangerous. There is also a chapter on creating your own poison. This is such a cool book!

These are just a few of the many books available. Next time you visit your local bookstore, check out the writing never can tell what treasure you will find.

And, while you're here, let us know your favorite "how to write" book.  I'll be heading to town on Friday and naturally Books a Million will be getting a visit.


kathy stemke said...

I made a copy of your list so I can check them out. Thanks!

V.R. Leavitt said...

Good list! I have the Marshall plan and the Orson Scott Card one, but like Kathy, am making a list of the rest.

One book I really like, is The Descriptionary - per the cover "the book for when you know what it IS, but don't know what it's CALLED." It's great.

I also really like Between the Lines by Jessica Page Morrell and Getting the Words Right: 39 Ways to Improve Your Writing by Theodore A. Rees Cheney.

And then just for inspiration, I like Ray Bradbury's Zen in the Art of Writing.

Cheryl said...

I do a lot of buying of these books, but it's rare that I read them. Isn't that horrible?

I had to read On Writing Well by William Zimmer for my Long Ridge course. That one was great.

The 38 Most Common Fiction Writing Mistakes (And How to Avoid Them) by Jack Bickham is also a good one.

One that I thought was fabulous when I reviewed it in 2008 is The Dog Walked Down the Street by Sal Glynn.

I want to pick up Donald Maass' book.

Now that I've listed a few titles you're probably thinking what I initially said isn't true; but I have close to 40 titles that deal with some aspect of writing and getting published--most of which I haven't read. [Bad writer. Bad writer.]

Jaleta Clegg said...

I'll have to pick up a few of these titles. Thanks for sharing!

Jean said...

Ohhh...nice lists. I'll definitely be checking some of them out.

Sandra said...

I need to get "Deadly Doses: a Writer’s Guide to Poisons by Serita Stevens."

I wonder if it has inspired any murderers? [horrid thought]