Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Leah's Top 3 Essential Writing Craft Books

Here's a secret for you: I am a self-taught writer, kinda... Not completely... Okay, maybe that's not such a big secret considering my on-going battle with commas and em-dashes. I didn't go to school for creative writing. I didn't even finish college even though I plan to in the future. One day, I just got it in my head that I was going to write a book. "How hard can it be?" I thought.

Yes, Ryan, I know. Old me was so funny!

Once I'd written what I thought was the best story ever, I knew I had to edit it because poor Stefanie could only tell me the difference between "its" and "it's" so many times before her brain was going to explode. So, I researched how-to books. I'd like to share them with you today!

Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Renni Browne & Dave King

Oh boy, was this an eye opener! From chapter one, Show and Tell, to chapter three, Point of View, all the way to the last chapter on voice, I was blown away at how many mistakes I was making. This book stays in arm's reach for me at all times. If I could recommend one book on the craft of writing, this would be it.

Writing Great Books for Young Adults by Regina Brooks

I know this says "for Young Adults" but I really think this book gives great advance for writing for any audience. I can open this book to any page and find a great piece of writing advice every time. For example: *opens book to random page* "Every element of the story should have significance. It if does not advance the plot, it shouldn't be in the story." See what I mean?

It also has a chapter on finding an agent and a "Publishing Process at a Glance" list.

Save the Cat! by Blake Snyder

This book says it's for screenwriting, but it's another one of those that gives great advice for every type of fiction writer, I think. My editor originally suggested this book to me and I'm forever thankful that she did. Seeing as I am a huge movie buff, I could understand all the examples and references he used in the book. It discusses the importance of having the perfect title, which I don't see discussed that often personally. It also has a beat sheet and exercises at the end of every chapter!

So, there you go. Have any of you read these? Do you have any books you'd like to recommend on the craft of writing?

3 secret replies:

  1. I'm not very good at the whole show-not-tell thing, particularly when it comes to character emotions, so I was thrilled when I stumbled across "The Emotion Thesaurus" by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi. Now I just write, and when I edit, I go back through and find any place that I named an emotion and use the thesaurus to help me show what's happening. So useful. It actually has a spot on my desk rather than the bookshelf!

    Another one I use a lot is "Story" by Robert McKee. Again, that's a screenwriting one, I think, but I used it for writing short stories and longer pieces when I was at uni. I think because it's talking about story, it applies to any kind and is well worth picking up.

    1. Thanks for the recommendations, Lesley! I've heard of The Emotion Thesaurus and have been meaning to check it out!

  2. A book that helped me a lot was The First Five Pages by Noah Lukeman. I used to write all these "books" that were about 15k words too short to be a novel. I had a serious pacing problem.

    Those look like good craft books. I've never read any of them. Save the Cat looks especially awesome. :) I'm pretty horrible with titles.