Saturday, January 08, 2011

Books that Actually HELP Writers

We, as writers, try to learn not only from the books we read for enjoyment, but also the books that are written to help us breakthrough in the publishing world. There are literally thousands of books out there about writing, publishing and editing. Not to mention the magazines, workshops and conferences. How to write, how to fix your writing, how to edit, copy edit, line edit. How to write a scene, how to outline. How to write a novel in 30 days, 60 says, 90 days, 3 days. The list can go on and on and on. So for that reason, I want to share with you the two books I have actually found helpful for different times in my writing career thus far.

For Inspiration

Pen on Fire: A Busy Woman’s Guide to Igniting the Writer Within- Barbara DeMarco-Barrett.

This book is for the boys too! I liked it because it was engaging, not dry at all, it had great ideas for getting started, dealing with writers block as well as finding the time to write. There are real life examples from well known authors and best of all, it’s not a huge book. The chapters are small enough that you can read one in a ten-fifteen minute sitting and spread out over a week or two the suggestions are easy to implement.

For Rejections & Editing

Thanks but this isn't for us. A (Sort of) Compassionate guide to why your Writing is being rejected- Jessica Page Morrell

This book is great once you are in the trenches, sending out queries and manuscripts and getting the rejection slips back. But it is also a great book on how to start doing your own editing. There are the common mistakes all writers make at the beginning of their careers and there are the not so common mistakes that can stop you from getting that all important contract. This book is also at times laugh out loud funny, which is surprising considering the subject matter.

There are a number of writing books that I’m looking forward to reading to help me out. Books like, The Writers Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers by Christopher Vogler , Booklife by Jeff Vandermeer just to name a couple. Reading books on writing is all part of the process of not only being a writer, but being the best writer you can and using the tools and resources that can help you get to that point.

I would love to know, what books have helped you in your writing? Were they serious, funny or only informative? Should I add them to my list of books to read? Did they actually help or just irritate you with repetitive messages?


Keri said...

My favourite book on writing is Writing the Breakout Novel by Donald Maass. I think it is serious, funny and informative and everyone who wants to write novels needs to read it. Another good book is Hooked by Les Edgerton which focuses completely on the opening of stories and how to write something that will ensure that your work of fiction will actually be read beyond the first sentence or first page. It also has the helpful but still humerous approach. Finally, the book every writer needs to read is The Writer's Book of Wisdom: 101 Rules for Mastering Your Craft by Steven Goldsberry. It is full of short segments that tackle so many different aspects of writing, from editing, to using "as" to just buckling down and writing. It's brilliant.

Shannon said...

Keri, thats a great list. I've often wondered about Maass' books as I know they're popular but haven't yet picked one up. Thanks for the additions, I'll be putting them on my TBR list :)

Intangible Hearts said...

So many little time. I can hardly see my computer from all the "How to publish everything" books. I actually own one called, "How to Publish Everything" by Meg Schneider & Barbara Doyen. Great post, but I need to get back to work.

Anassa said...

I haven't read many writing books. I've skimmed a few, read reviews and summaries of some of the others, and so far, I haven't run into one that gives information I haven't seen on blogs or already know. That said, Self-Editing For Fiction Writers has helped me with my revisions. It clearly lays out, with examples, what to look for and how to fix problems, starting with what should be done first, ending with the nitpicking stuff that needs to be done last (like line edits).

JJ said...

Hey Shannon - I follow your blog and find posts like this so helpful! I'll have to look these books up :)

Got a blog award for you:

Unknown said...

Writing Down the bones by Natalie Goldberg. I find this book always has good advice when I'm stuck with something.

The book by Donald Mass indeed has good advice, as do books by Sol Stein.

Btw, following you now :)

Shannon said...

The Desert Rocks- Yes, there rarely is enough time for all the books out there. That was in part why I did this post. Try to weed out the books that weren't as helpful. Now, get back to work ;)

Anassa- There is a lot on the blogs, but I have found that that right book can fill in the blanks. I will be putting your suggestion on my TBR list :) Thanks!

WritersBlockNZ- I was so excited! It was like winning an Academy Award :) Thanks so much!

Damyanti-Thanks for following and thank you for commenting! I will be putting down your suggestion along with my others TBR! Hope you enjoy the blog, and I always love comments!

Anonymous said...

Hello, Shannon. This is a late reply to your post, but if you find The Writers Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers by Christopher Vogler useful, then you'll want to follow it up with Myth and the Movies by Stuart Votilla. It's a companion guide to Vogler's work. He boils down the mythic structures and applies them to different movie genres. Yes, movies are different from books, but I found these two works to be remarkably helpful.

Shannon said...

Thanks Mark! Your suggestion is now on "The List."