Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Recommended Reading For Writers

In October, I ran an Author-fest. It was so fantastic having such great authors visit my YAlicious blog for a small interview. It was awesome to get to know their work a little better and the history behind some of their stories. One of the most interesting questions for me was...

 If you could recommend any book to aspiring writers, what would it be and why?

There were some fantastic suggestions, so I thought I'd compile the answers into a list for you.
If you'd like to add any others into the comments section, please feel free.

So - in no particular order....

On Writing by Stephen KingHe talks about writing with the passion of the story—getting caught up in the story without worrying about perfection or errors. I think a lot of beginning writers get so caught up in their mistakes that they become stymied. My favorite quote about first drafts is “A first draft is a celebration of everything that can go wrong on a page.”

The Writer's Guide to Character Traits by Linda N. Edelstein, PH.DIt's an absolute goldmine for character development, and helps to really make your characters three-dimensional, real people.

And Save the Cat! by Blake SnyderIt's a book about plotting out screenplays but it 
DEFINITELY applies to novel writing. BIG TIME.

Manuscript Makeover by Elizabeth Lyon is hands-down the most comprehensive, helpful book on revision. Lyon covers not only copyediting issues, but also voice, theme and symbolism, pacing and characterization.

And here's one from me...

Writing Great Books For Young Adults by Regina Brooks. This book is full of helpful suggestions and things to consider when writing for a YA audience. I took screeds of notes that I refer to all the time.

I hope you manage to get your hands on some of these books. I know I will be working through the ones I haven't read yet.

Do you have any books you'd like to add to the mix? What's your recommended reading for writers?


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  2. The best book I've found on the subject id Stephen King's "On Writing". It's down to earth sound stuff.

    1. Yes - it was so brilliant. It was the first book I ever read on writing and I loved it.

      Thanks for stopping by, Yvonne :-)

  3. I agree, ON WRITING was a wonderful and informative read. Do you tend to hold with King's notion of simply going for it when beginning a manuscript, and letting the story unfold as it will (known as being a "pantser" or writing by the seat of your pants), or do you outline?

    Most of the writers I interview say they are pantsers.

    Personally, I typically outline a bit at first, but only because the story comes at me so fast, whipping up an outline is the only way to capture it in that moment.

    Great list, Melissa.

    1. Thanks for your thoughts, Ryan.

      I am a total planner. In fact, I spend just as long planning a book as I do writing it. I have found that I end up writing a better story, if I plan first, but everyone is so different.

      Most of the writers I speak to are pansters.

      Like you - I get ideas coming in a big flood and jotting them down helps me not to lose them. After that I sort and organise them into a proper outline. I really enjoy that process.

  4. I have a list here: http://melissamaygrove.blogspot.com/p/favorite-links-books-on-craft_09.html

    Of my list, these are tops:

    Self-Editing For Fiction Writers by Browne & King
    (Don't let the title fool you - this one deals with far more than just spelling and grammar.)

    Techniques of the Selling Writer by Dwight Swain
    (Excellent, IMHO.)

    The First Five Pages by Noah Lukeman
    (This one may make you want to self-publish *gasp*, but it will save you time and trouble if you decide to pursue a traditional publisher.)

    I haven't read King's On Writing yet, but I see it mentioned everywhere. I'm sure once I read it, I'll add it to the list. :)

    1. I think Self-Editing for Fiction Writers is such a good book! I always read it after I've finished my first draft... while I'm waiting for my critique partners to get back to me. It's great to refresh on those basics before launching into the editing phase.

      Thanks for these other suggestions, Melissa :)