WEDNESDAY WRITING TIP: Best Books on Writing

Posted: May 5, 2010 in Uncategorized

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There’s no shortage of books on the craft, technique and business of writing. I had no idea just how many books I had until i started to organize my home library and noticed a whole shelf was dedicated to writing.

Here are what I think are most useful

On Writing Stephen King- I’m not a fan of Stephen King’s stuff but this book breaks down some of the craft and a lot of the psychology that writers want to know about.

Story Robert McKee–This is actually a screenwriter’s guide. McKee is a bit of a grouch but he helps you organize how a story needs to be told. Big on conflict and what he calls “value changes” in scenes.

Screenplay: the Foundations of Screenwriting Syd Field–This book teaches you in a very anal strict way the beginning-middle-end deal of putting a screenplay together. A little on the structured side but very helpful.

Writing the Novel
Lawrence Block–this is the anti outline book that let’s you know from one of the very best that you don’t have to be an unimaginative anal idiot to write a good novel.

It’s been my experience that half the books will encourage to write a 100 page out line describing every freakin’ scene in great detail before you actually start to write the damn book. The other half will tell you to start writing even if you’re not sure where you’re going.

Me? I’ve learned i do best with something in between.

  1. Mark Terry says:

    My highest recommendation is actually “Make Your Words Work” by Gary Provost. I also highly recommend “The Well-Fed Writer” by Peter Bowerman, which is about freelancing. None of his techniques actually worked that well for me, but his mindset and attitude changed my life.

  2. D. B. Dean says:

    I think the best guide to how to write is to read other books…practice writing in other voices.

    I picked up “will write for shoes” a guide to writing chick lit…its pretty good

    This weekend I re read four books (yours, a dean kontz, a nora roberts and a louis lamoure)…

    I charted each chapter to determine problem and resolution in each book…to see how each author pulls a reader along and keep them engaged.

    Despite the different genres they all had a similar arch and structure. I learned more in analysing published authors actual books then in readding all the how to books i have bought.

  3. Robert Ward says:

    Reading books about how to write novels is largely useless. Reading novels and observing how they are put together is not. But I’ve found a couple of interesting books on writing. By far the best was Aspects of the Novel by E.M. Forester. Not only is he one of the greatest of all novelists but his book is brilliant, and instructive. Writing Crime Fiction by HRF Keating (himself a good crime novelist)is a very helpful book. Practical, and with good examples.

  4. My personal fave is “Self-Editing for Fiction Writers”, a good nutzenbolts book. But I have come to realize that reading books about writing is just a handy excuse to avoid actually writing, so I don’t read them any more.

    Though I did steal King’s summer job in the laundry, as related in On Writing, for a story.

  5. Michael says:

    I’ve got most of those books on my bookshelf (they are a little dusty though…gotta fix that this summer). My parents gave me a great little book by Elmore Leonard. Leonard is one of my absolute favorite writers. His writing tips in this little book are amazing. So simple and direct and clearly the reason for his success. When I’m reading through them the feeling of “less is more” often comes about.

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