Writers are always working to hone their craft. We never stop looking for ways to reach beyond our natural gift of storytelling. It can be taking formal course work to pursue an MFA (Master of Fine Arts) or attending conferences, but it can also be to listening comments of other writers as they critique our work, or working with a mentor.
I have also found books on the topic of writing to be helpful. There are a few old favorites that I return to when I have a question or need to review.
Earlier this week, someone asked me which “writing books” I have found helpful, so here are seven of my “go to” books:
The Writer’s Journey by Christopher Vogler: Inspired by the work of Joseph Campbell, Mr. Vogler take you through the fundamentals of the hero’s journey, character archetypes, and power of myth to tell a compelling story. I found that even romance stories have these elements which have been used by storytellers since we first gathered around the fire and spun tales to entertain and educate.
No Plot, No Problem by Chris Baty: Written as a resource for National Novel Writing Month Mr. Baty takes you through the process from the blank page to the first draft in thirty days. Written with humor and solid advice, I found it got me through the first draft of my first novel without going crazy.
Firsts in Fiction: First line Hooks, Hints, and Help by Aaron Gansky: This slim volume looks at that all important first line of your story. As a writer and teacher, Mr. Gansky uses this little book to make the process a little less scary. Beautiful examples of the worst and the best first lines are given in the text.
The Irresistible Novel by Jeff Gerke: We all want to write that “can’t put down” book. Mr. Gerke takes you through “the rules” of writing. He explains the reason for the rule, gives arguments for and against, and then lets you decide if you want to follow or break the rules. He also discusses how to emotionally engage your reading and psychology of storytelling from Jung to Campbell.
These last two are by the same author, James Scott Bell. It was hard to narrow down which of his excellent books in my library which to choose. As an author and instructor, all of his books are informative. Here are my two favorites –
Write Your Novel from the Middle – This looks at the structure of the novel, finding that one point in the middle that defines what the story is all about. When I used this to do the last draft of my novel The Princess of Sweetwater, it took on a new, unanticipated direction when I defined the “mirror moment” in the story, and I fell in love with it all over again.
How to Write Short Stories and Use Them to Further Your Writing Career – This is one of the newest additions to my library. After participating in a webinar about the book, I decided to purchase it. Writing short for me is a challenge, rarely are my stories shorter than seven thousand words. Since reading this, I have finished two short stories and am submitting them to anthologies.
So how do I chose which ones to plunk down my hard earned cash and take home to read? A quick search online reveals thousands of books on how to write anything. It’s hard to narrow it down. I look for books written by people I like and respect. If a book is written by someone I’ve never heard of, I will do a little research into who they are and what their credentials are. Also, I have found that recommendations from my writer friends often prove to be good choices.
What are some of your favorite writing craft resources? List them in the comments below.
Until next time . . .
The door is always open, and the kettle is always on.