Friday, December 21, 2007

Books on Writing

Here are some of the books that I found very helpful in learning how to write better. Some of these books I own, others I picked up at the library.

Self Editing for Fiction Writers, 2nd Edition
by Renni Browne and Dave King

This is a great book to help you improve your writing, but make sure to keep in mind that this advice should be taken in moderation! This is one place where the oft-cited "don't use adverbs" advice comes from. (What they actually say is don't use adverbs with a verb when you can replace them with one stronger verb that does the job of both.) That said, I highly recommend this book and have read it many times.

Beginnings, Middles, and Ends
by Nancy Kress

Agents and editors say that they often read short stories and novels that start with one idea/focus, then, part way through, it suddenly turns into a different story and the end "wraps up" a completely different story. I've come across stories like this when I've done critiques. I'm not talking about twist ends. The author apparently started writing one story but then had a great idea and took off on another track partway through but never bothered to go back to revise the beginning to make it fit the new story. This book helps you stay on track by helping you identify the questions you raise at the beginning that need to be answered by the end. It also helps you improve whatever stage of writing (beginning, middle, or end) that's the most difficult for you to write well.

I've read most of the other books in the Elements of Fiction Writing series by Writer's Digest, but this is the one I own because I found it so useful.

The Complete Handbook of Novel Writing
complied by Meg Leder, Jack Heffron, and the Editors of Writer's Digest

This book has articles by published authors on writing a variety of different genres. It really helped me bring my work from a generic "we've all seen that before" story to a story that really comes alive.

Writing Great Screenplays for Film and TV, 2nd Edition
by Dona Cooper

This is one of those books I got from the library and took several pages of notes on. No, I don't write screenplays, but this really helped me view my writing from a different perspective. I talks about different types of heros and how to increase tension as well as many other things.

If you're interested in writing Sci-Fi/Fantasy, then I'd recommend:

How to Write Science Fiction and Fantasy
by Orson Scott Card

He gives a lot of good ideas on how to build unique worlds as well as some good, basic writing advice.

Author Kathleen Dalton Woodbury recommended a book for those who want to improve their short story writing.

Writing in General and the Short Story in Particular
by L Rust Hills

I've never read it, though, so I can't describe it further.

If you have a favorite book about writing that you'd like to tell other writers about, feel free to post about them in the comments section.

No comments: