1. Stormsong07

    Stormsong07 Contributor Contributor

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    Useful Books on Writing

    Discussion in 'Discussion of Published Works' started by Stormsong07, Apr 24, 2017.

    Anyone else like me who reads books about writing? What are some that you have read that have been helpful?

    My lists:

    Currently-Reading
    1. How To Fix Your Novel, by Steve Alcorn (great for those who like to plan their novels)
    2. Stein on Writing, by Sol Stein (got some really good tips on characterization)

    To-Read (aka I have it, but haven't read yet)
    1. Self-Editing For Fiction Writers by Renni Browne and Dave King

    On my Amazon Wish List, aka To-Read
    (but haven't purchased yet)
    1. The Fantasy Fiction Formula by Deborah Chester
    2. Jeff Herman's Guide to Book Publishers, Editors, and Literary Agents 2017: Who They Are, What They Want, and How to Win Them Over, by Jeff Herman
    3. Writer's Market 2017: The Most Trusted Guide To Getting Published by Robert Lee Brewer
    4. The First Five Pages: A Writer's Guide to Staying Out of the Rejection Pile by Noah Lukeman
    5. The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer's Guide To Character Expression by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi


    Anyone read any of these? What are your thoughts? (especially on the ones I haven't bought yet, lol)
    Any other must-read books on writing or the publishing process out there?
     
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  2. izzybot

    izzybot (unspecified) Contributor

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    My to-read list, on assorted recommendations. I'm really not much of one for craft books, but.
     
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  3. Homer Potvin

    Homer Potvin Funky like your grandpa's drawers.... Staff Contributor

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    This one is kind of like my bible. It was the first one I read (1999?) and it's always stuck with me.
     
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  4. Infel

    Infel Contributor Contributor

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    Such a worthwhile read!
     
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  5. Spencer1990

    Spencer1990 Contributor Contributor

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    This one is my go-to when I'm writing very character driven stuff. It's not like On Writing that's an enjoyable read cover to cover, but it's a really nice reference or interesting skim when you're looking for inspiration or trying to get in a character's head. It's one of the most useful craft books I've read.
     
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  6. truthbeckons

    truthbeckons Active Member

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    How to Not Write Bad by Ben Yagoda is my favourite guide to the basics of grammar, punctuation, sentence construction and style generally. He explains pretty much all the stumbling points of written language quickly, clearly and pleasantly, so I've found it compulsively readable cover-to-cover. Even and especially his explanations of things I already understood has helped me figure out how to explain these things to others. (And wow, please don't take that overabundance of adverbs as a reflection on what the book teaches you... I'm really tired right now.)

    Anyway, anyone who still has occasional problems with the mechanics of words and sentences should read that one. Can't recommend highly enough.

    I haven't come across many "how to write a novel" guides that I liked, although sometimes I think about Ingermanson's Snowflake method when I have to flesh something out, and in general his Writing Fiction for Dummies gave a pretty good basic framework for the process. Better than any other how-to guide I can remember, anyway. Simple and practical, a great starting point.
     
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  7. truthbeckons

    truthbeckons Active Member

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    I wouldn't recommend that one unless you're really looking to overcome procrastination and just bang something/anything out. If you're not having trouble getting started, I don't reckon it'll get you very far in actually improving your stuff. It's not really written as a guide to writing a good novel.
     
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  8. Iain Sparrow

    Iain Sparrow Banned Contributor

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    As a dead simple guide to convey emotion through actions, body language, innuendo, and most importantly using inference... try 'The Emotional Thesaurus', by Angela Ackerman & Becca Puglisi. The layout is perfectly sensible, emotions in alphabetical order, two pages each of examples and prompts.

    The only other book I use again and again, is 'The Emotional Craft of Fiction', by Donald Mass.
     
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  9. minstrel

    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Supporter Contributor

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    Mere words cannot describe how much I loathe this book. It's prescriptive to the point of mania, and the writers Swain holds up as models to be emulated are almost all hacks like he is. (His own oeuvre includes such deathless classics as Terror Out of Space, Stay Out of Space!, and Bring Back My Brain! - look them up on Amazon.)

    My own favorite books on writing are the two by John Gardner: The Art of Fiction and On Becoming a Novelist. These books are not simply collections of tips, dos, and don'ts. Rather, they are powerful works on fiction as an art form. Gardner seeks to lead his readers to mastery of the art. He's a stern taskmaster, but I find these books inspiring.
     
  10. Spencer1990

    Spencer1990 Contributor Contributor

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    I agree that a lot of the craft books can be prescriptive, but I'll say the same thing I've always said.

    I think there's value in consuming as many of these craft books as we can. It gives fodder to our brains as we formulate or refine our own systems. Even if the Swain books are garbage, if someone can take even one concept from them and apply it to their process, it's a win right? I just don't see why, as crafters of fiction, we'd want to disregard any sort of extra theory on the craft itself. To me, it just boils down to exposure: the more I'm exposed to, and the more I practice, the better I'll become.

    And this isn't the mentality that works for everyone, but I like it enough. :)
     
  11. BayView

    BayView Huh. Interesting. Contributor

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    I think the only book on writing I've ever been able to get through is, well, On Writing (King). The rest of them?

    I'd rather read fiction and do my own analysis than read someone else's analysis. And, to be honest, I'd rather write fiction and not really analyze it all that much. Structure is nice and everything, but... just telling a story works, too.
     
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  12. Stormsong07

    Stormsong07 Contributor Contributor

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    My college Creative Writing professor loved John Gardner. We had The Art of Fiction and On Moral Fiction as assigned reading. I liked Art, but I found Moral Fiction pedantic and dull.
     
  13. Teresa Mendes

    Teresa Mendes Member

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    The Fantasy Fiction Formula by Deborah Chester. Read it, it's very very good! =)

    I also like "How not to write a Novel" by Sandra Newman and Howard Mittelmark.
     
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  14. nastyjman

    nastyjman Senior Member

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    Story Grid by Shawn Coyne

    It's very technical. I advise that you read this as if it's a guide on how to edit or revise your manuscript. I agree with his concept about scene turning points.
     
  15. EdFromNY

    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    As I've noted in other threads, I enjoyed Steven James' Story Trumps Structure immensely. James A. Michener wrote a few works on writing/publishing, including Writer's Handbook (which focused on editing), Literary Reflections, and My Lost Mexico (which detailed how his enthusiasm for a work in progress was stilted, then rediscovered and brought to conclusion 30 years later). His novel The Novel dealt with the publishing industry. I also have a collection of essays edited by Bill Strickland entitled On Being A Writer which, though entertaining, was not helpful in learning the craft (the most persistent question asked of the collection of writers being, "Do you work from an outline?").

    An amusing book on mystery writers is Robert Kaplow's novel, Who Is Killing the Great Writers of America.
     
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