Monday, May 21, 2012

got writing?

And for today we'll ask "got reading?"

Many writers find certain books and manuals that are helpful to them as they navigate the writing process.

When I was at Duke for undergrad, I studied playwriting with David Ball, author of Backwards and Forwards. I still refer back to this book because although it was written with plays in mind, much of what David Ball talks about is relevant to novels.

Someone recently recommended Cheryl Klein's Second Sight: An Editor's Talks on Writing Revising and Publishing Books for Children and Young Adults. I've never had the opportunity to hear Cheryl speak, but reading these speeches enables me to feel like I'm in the room with her.

Another book I like is Darcy Pattinson's Novel: Metamorphasis. Darcy Pattinson runs novel revision retreats and I had a book I was writing that was very mediocre. I didn't want to give up on it. I was unable to attend Darcy's retreat, but bought this book to see if I could repair my novel.

My critique partner, Jill Arabas, recommended Hooked: write fiction that grabs readers at page one and never lets them go by Les Edgerton. It changed the way I looked at first line and the start of my novels.

Many writers love Ann Lamott's Bird by Bird. I have to admit, I own it and it's on my TBR pile, but I haven't gotten to it yet.

Sometimes when I'm in a rut, I'll seek a recommendation for a writing book. They're not a solution to every problem, but sometimes they are the nudge I need to restart my creative juices.

What writing books do you recommend?


I'll add The Writer's Journey to the list. (I have an earlier edition.) Christopher Vogler explores the relationship of mythology and story telling. He distills John Campbell's The Hero's Journey and makes it accessible to writers who are struggling along with their main characters.

After I've written a draft or when I'm having trouble moving forward, paging though The Writer's Journey usually sheds light on what's lacking structurally and inspires me to make repairs and get back on track again.

I had the good fortune of hearing Cheryl Klein speak at an SCBWI Metro NY Professional Series event about the revision process and she was wonderful. If you visit her website you can also check out her insightful blog. So far, I've heard only good things about "Second Sight." I'll have to add it to my shopping cart, soon.   ~~Karen

1 comment:

  1. Nice list, Shari! I LOVE Bird by Bird, and recommend it highly. Definitely the best book on writing I've read. It has got practical help, but it's also uplifting.

    I also liked Stephen King's book on writing, especially the part where he shares how he wrote Carrie (he threw the partially written manuscript in the trash & his wife took it out!)

    Others: The Modern Library Writer's Workshop by Stephen Koch (not such a compelling title, but a great book on craft), Natalie Goldberg's Writing Down the Bones. John Gardner's The Art of Fiction & Brenda Ueland's If you Want to Write.

    I think the books that taught me to write the most were the novels I loved to read. I went through them and analyzed what drew me to them. I recommend this exercise to everyone!