Thursday, August 19, 2010

Best Books on Writing

I went to college. And actually graduated. So of course I can write, right?

Right, sort of. I started with a fiction-writing, critique-group class at a Community College. That was an eye-opener. Sure, I could write. However, that's when I began to understand the wide gulf between my prose and that of published writers.

I searched in libraries and used bookstores for 'how to' books that would help me. I found many. I found truly valuable help in few.

Now that I think I write rather well for the two genres that interest me, I look back and remember only two books that had a significant impact on my writing skills.
The first was: Stein on Writing, by Sol Stein. It answered the question, "How should I write if I want to get published?"

The second was: Self-Editing for Fiction Writers, by Renni Browne and Dave King. It answered the question, "How should I write if I want to impress agents and editors with my professional-caliber skills?"

I mention these two books because they are the only books that I have kept and re-read. All the others didn't seem to 'pop' for me, I guess.

Now it's your turn. Tell me what book on writing wowed you, and made you keep it, and made you re-read it once in a while.


Janet/Cricket said...

I have to mention Bird By Bird, not because I read it all the time but because it has this story at the beginning which inspires me to this day.

Everyone one will tell you the secret to finishing the book is to keep writing it. You most likely will hit blocks but you have to work through them.

In the Bird by Bird book, the title comes from something the author's father told her brother when he had to write a report on different birds. His father just told him to do it "bird by bird". In other words, write a piece, then another, then another. Chapter by chapter, or scene by scene would work as well.

Another way to put it is the old saying, books are written bit by bit, as the cat eats the fish.

Jill James said...

Stephen King's On Writing because it is so brutally honest. He holds nothing back about how hard it is to write and how hard it is to write to get published. Also, The Hero's Journey by (I think) Campbell, I don't want to find it right now.

Paisley Kirkpatrick said...

Bird By Bird and Deb Dixon's GMC. Those two books stayed with me the most out of all the help books.

I've had some great CP's that have pushed me in the right direction. To them I am the most grateful. :)

Mona Risk said...

I have a whole shelf on 'how to write' books. they all helped me at one time or another. Best ones: D. Dixon on GMC and Donald Maass's. I would have list them but I am away from home for two more days.

Joanne said...

I also have many "how to write" books, but one of my favorites is Stephen King's, "On Writing." Lots of common sense.