Friday, November 05, 2010

Good writing books

A couple days ago an aspiring author asked me for a few recommendations of good writing books as I had sent back a critique highlighting a few things like Show, don't tell and Resist the Urge to Explain also 1+1 = 1/2.

How did I know these things? the aspiring author asked as her critique partners had never really highlighted them before.

Short answer is through reading how to books.

I divide my how to books in several categories.

First there are the writing romance books -- my go to books here are Leslie Wainger Writing Romance for Dummies and Kate Walker's 12 step guide (3rd edition coming out soon!)  Do not underestimate how much is actually in this genre and how rusty you can become on the basics! I did and had the serious revisions to prove it.

Then there are the books on structure:

Robert McKee Story  (almost of  the Harlequin editors have attended his seminar)

Blake Snyder Save the Cat
Donal Swain Techniques of the Selling Writer 

Then there are the books on editing

Self Editing for Fiction Writers by Browne and King -- This is a great primer on explaining about things like Show Don't tell, Easy Physical beats, Resisting the Urge to Explain and why 1+1 = 1/2. They also explain why an adverb isn't necessarily your friend. I like knowing the WHY behind the practice. You can know about a rule but if you don't know the theory behind it, you won't why it works when you break it.

The Manuscript Makeover by Elizabeth Lyon -- it is excellent and full of helpful advice on creating 3 d characters

And the Donald Maass books -- Writing the Break Out Novel plus workbook and The Fire in Fiction. he is brilliant on creating mirco tension and looking for low tension traps. Plus identifying points of change in a scene and really making them standout.

I do read other ones but those are my go to library as it were. 

Above all though it is important to look at the Doughnut (the story) instead of the hole.


Nas said...

Hi Michelle,

Thanks for the tips on all these good books. You know I took your advice and ordered some, now to hunt down the rest...


Anne McAllister said...

Don't forget Twyla Tharp, The Creative Habit!