Ask-A-Wench — Books on Writing

Anne here, bringing you Ask-A-Wench for this month, in which we're talking craft-of-writing books. There are probably as many different ways to approach writing as there are writers, and in our discussion of the topic, we found the wenches vary enormously. 31+ckWRhoAL._BO1,204,203,200_

Mary Jo:  Basically, I hate how-to-write books.  In the past, I bought a number of pricey books that other writers raved about.  Books that help some develop strong plots, brilliant insights, and probably shiny hair.  They did nothing for me.  My mind blanks.  Eventually, I realized that is not how I learn. (I'm not great with expensive, highly rated lecturers on writing, either.  Honestly, I have no idea how I've ever managed to write a book!)

But one book I really like is Stephen King's ON WRITING: A Memoir of the Craft. Probably because it's more memoir and less craft.  I don't read Stephen King novels because I've never been into horror,  but in this memoir, he is warm and wise and witty and very easy to relate to.  He intertwines his life with his writing, and the result is fascinating and powerful.  (Also short.  Unlike his novels. *G*) 

RejectionRomanceandRoyaltiesI've also enjoyed TELLING LIES FOR FUN AND PROFIT, a collection of columns written for Writer's Digest by mystery Grand Master Lawrence Block, because it's funny. I'll read almost anything if it appeals to my sense of humor!    

Okay, and now I've come up with a third book!  (I seem to like books about writing more than about the craft of writing.) REJECTION, ROMANCE, AND ROYALTIES by my friend Laura Resnick is a collection of her no-holds-barred columns for various writing organizations, and they're funny, astute, and a comprehensive study of the writer's life. And did I mention funny?  

Pat Rice says: Whenever anyone asks what craft-of-writing books I recommend, I trudge out Vogler’s WRITER’S JOURNEY and Maass’s WRITING THE BREAKOUT NOVEL. MaasBreakout
They both have valuable insights, although I can’t use their methods because my brain doesn’t work that way. But knowing what makes a strong character and plot is certainly helpful—and I think that’s key to making craft books work for us.

Writers are special snowflakes—we all operate differently. But stories are universal. Reading a craft book and attempting to follow it as a line-by-line instruction will only give us headaches and stifle creativity. Pulling out the parts that make us go Ah-hah and applying them to our work is another matter entirely—because we all need to strive to constantly better our craft. But personally, I’d rather spend my  bucks on research books!

WoodNicola : I have a shelf full of craft books, which I referred to a lot when I was teaching creative writing. These days I don’t read them much because I find that sometimes if I analyse too deeply what I’m trying to achieve I can lose the creative spark. I write so much by instinct and don’t plan a lot but sometimes going back to the nuts and bolts can really help. For example, I heard a podcast from Freakonomics Radio on how to build suspense and found that very useful when I started writing House of Shadows. All writers are different and we all need to find out what works for us.  

Last week, though, I did see a book on writing craft that I’m finding fascinating. Perhaps it appeals particularly because it is written for readers as well as writers. It’s called How Fiction Works by James Wood and it can be read as a “how to write” book but also as a way of finding more depth in the books we read as well. I’m on the chapter about characterisation at the moment and reading about how to animate characters rather than simply describe what they look like or what they are doing. "Get them moving" is the advice!  

Susanna: Back in the pre-Internet late 1980s, when my sister dared me to actually finish the book I’d begun (instead of putting that first chapter back in the box with the rest of my first chapters), I turned for help to the library in the Very Small Town where I lived at the time. They didn’t have a large writing section, but they did have a copy of Phyllis A. Whitney’s Guide to Fiction Writing. That book quite literally changed my life. Not only did it get me through that first (not very good) novel, but it gave me the confidence to tackle the idea that became my novel Mariana. I gave the library back their copy and bought my own, and still go back to it between books for inspiration. Whitney

Apart from that, the only writing books I really read and re-read are the ones that gather lots of articles from many different working writers, so you get a bunch of small tutorials on aspects of the craft. My old 1990 Edition of The Writer’s Handbook has Rosamunde Pilcher talking about evoking emotion, Elizabeth Peters on developing ideas, Madeleine L’Engle on why you shouldn’t overthink a story, and my all-time favourite article by Stephen King: “Everything You Need To Know About Writing Successfully—In Ten Minutes”.  (Best. Article. Ever.)

There’s no one way to write, as we all know. No rules or methods or techniques that work for every writer. But I like reading the articles anyway, and I do think that I learn from them. In Writing Suspense and Mystery Fiction (which also gets taken down from my shelf a fair bit), there’s an article by Mary Stewart on using setting in the novel, and she opens it by saying this: “Although I must confess that I have my doubts whether one writer can tell another how to write anything at all, or even describe adequately how he does it himself, I know that there is something heartening and helpful about the very community of experience. Every writer started somewhere, and no writer worth his salt ever had it easy, or ever will; so it is possible that a brief attempt to summarize the way I tackle certain phases of writing may be of interest to others.” I think that says it best.

Andrea/Cara (hanging her head in shame) I’m embarrassed to say I can’t offer any favorite ‘craft of writing’ books (unless one counts the Strunk and White classic— The Elements of Style.) You are probably thinking, How can that be? Trust me, I am asking myself the same question. I do a lot of sports and so I’m aware that without lessons and hands-on refinement of technique, one has little  hope of getting better at a particular skill. Few of us are born naturals. We have to work at it, and instruction is key. Which makes me appear even more of a doofus when it comes to training my mental muscle.  

Strunk&WhiteI can’t explain why I don’t feel compelled to search out craft books. I have learned some very good things listening to authors speak at conferences. But when I’ve tried to sit down and peruse a book on writing advice, I don’t react well. Perhaps it stems from the fact that I’m a total pantser type of writer. My brain finds it hard outline or think formally about structure. I tend to go more on intuition, and I suppose I excuse that response by telling myself I have learned some basic things by osmosis, as I’ve been a voracious reader since childhood. 

Susan: When I first started writing fiction, I read a few books about writing and enjoyed it very much, certainly learned something as a newbie. Really I learned more about writing from writing, trying, writing some more than from how-to books. I always loved writing poetry and stories and secretly worked at that for years.  Graduate school taught me good solid writing skills as I worked my way through dozens of papers and talked to professors about writing craft as well as method. I had strong writing instincts to start, and my professors, authors and accomplished writers themselves, helped me hone my natural tendencies. I learned to stay on track, trim and focus, find the punch in the statement, avoid sentiment, and learned to get that grammar and punctuation right. I learned not just history and research methods but thinking and writing skills. Writing that flows and a structure with a clear beginning, middle and end is as essential in a good art history argument as it is to good fiction.  Brande

Writing, especially fiction, is a uniquely self-taught skill. You have an ability for it or you don't, and it develops from there. Good writing depends on self-learning as you figure out what works for your own style and interests. To me it's an artistic approach that is grounded in instinct, intuition and natural ability. And anything can be improved–we can always learn from others. We osmose good writing from good writers, but books about the craft of writing can be very useful,enjoyable, thought-provoking reads. I like reading about writing, but if there are rules, steps, phases, exercises or workbooks involved, I'm outta there.  Some of my favorite books on writing and storytelling are keepers on my bookshelves. I love Stephen King's semi-autobiographical On Writing–you don't have to be a writer to enjoy the straightforward sizzle there. I also love the refreshing honesty in Annie Lamott's Bird by Bird, and when I was a very young writer I felt encouraged by Dorothea Brande's classic Becoming a Writer. Christopher Vogler's Writer's Journey clarifies the importance of storytelling and explores Joseph Campbell's work on archetypes and mythologies in The Hero's Journey. Vogler is the one writing book I go back to now and again. I feel most like a bard and a storyteller when I thumb through those pages, and it reminds me that there is a bigger reason why I do this.  

But clearly I have been picking up the wrong books. After reading over the other Wenchly recommendations, I am aghast at myself for not being more open to exploring valuable resources. My TBR now has a number of new additions—and I am determined to prove you can teach an old dog new tricks.

Jo Bourne: I'm not much of a 'writer's craft' book person. Everyone else seems to do things so differently from me. I learn most about writing by reading what folks have written, I think.

Like several others, I’ve read and enjoyed King’s On Writing. I think of it as a book of philosophy as much as a writing manual. More. It’s a keynote speech to the conference more than a workshop advising folks to boot the adverbs out of the house — though it says that, among other things. King says, “ Go sit down and write, for Pete’s sake,” with a dessert of “. . . and stop feeling sorry for yourself.” McKeeStory

Looking at a 'style and technique' book for the nuts and bolts of writing, I'd go to McKee’s Story: Style, Structure, Substance and the Principles of Screenwriting. This is, as the lengthy and exact title tells us, a guide to making movies rather than writing books. Movies are storytelling in snippets of realtime action presented in a two or three hour format. This is so applicable to genre fiction. Story is full of advice on making action matter, on wrapping the viewer in feelings rather than abstractions, and provides useful warnings against plodding along, pontificating. Every time I open Story or On Writing to any random page, I find something worth thinking about.    

Anne here again: Like Nicola, I have a lot of craft-of-writing books that I take to writing workshops, because I think you need to "taste"  a book to see whether the author's approach will might suit you or not. Some books that people rave about, do nothing at all for me — it's very personal. The more "instructional" a book, the less I like it. Like most of the wenches, I firmly believe that I learned to write by reading widely in a range of genres since I was a child, and by writing and rewriting to get the effect I want. I think I absorbed a lot of craft without knowing it.

SegerBut some writing books are valuable to me simply for inspiration, or to remind me to do something I might have forgotten, or to remind me of the joy of writing when I'm struggling with a plot that refuses to come together as I want it. As Joanna said, simply opening various books at random can offer insights worth pondering.

One book I like is Linda Seger's Creating Unforgettable Characters. It's a screenwriting book, and she helps you go deeper into character by asking you questions. It's the Socratic method — the answer, like the character, is in your head, but you need the right question to unlock it. If I'm struggling to understand a character, I'll often turn to her. It's also very entertaining, as she refers to examples from TV and movies that I've watched.

So that's the wenches — now what about you? Is there any craft book you love and return to again and again? I don't mean craft-of-writing, necessarily —we're not all writers here—but any kind of advice book you find helps you in some way. 

95 thoughts on “Ask-A-Wench — Books on Writing”

  1. I’ve had the opportunity to talk to several Romanian writers and they’ve never even thought of following any rules while writing. They write what and how they feel and if they’re lucky their books will sell, but they don’t really write for the public, they write for themselves. Which must be the reason why our big publishing houses won’t bother with Romanian authors, but publish international bestsellers instead – knowing those should sell. Publishers think in terms of commerce; Romanian writers think in terms of ‘literature for the sake of literature’. That is why some time ago, as I joined Critique Circle, I was surprised to find out there were actual rules that one ought to follow in order to write a good book. I would have never guessed, for instance, that one should not use many adverbs. Or that one shouldn’t begin with a description (most of the famous Romanian novels we’ve studied in school actually do begin with descriptions), etc
    I find rules restricting, but as I started reading Jack Bickham’s THE 38 MOST COMMON FICTION WRITING MISTAKES (And How To Avoid Them) I realised what he said made sense. I’ve got two more books by the same Mr. Bickham – from the Elements Of Fction Writing series – one on ‘Scene and Structure’, and one on ‘Setting’. Since Mr. Bickham is an experienced teacher, I can easily relate to his approach and adapt his advice to what I want to do (or the other way round LOL). These days I’ve developed a tendency to analyse other people’s books and see if they follow any rules. I think it depends on the editors really :p – the authors themselves would rather be ‘free’. Is it a good or a bad thing George Eliot did not have a very demanding editor? Can you imagine Middlemarch without those mindcurling (is there such a word? =)) ) opening paragraphs?

    Reply
  2. I’ve had the opportunity to talk to several Romanian writers and they’ve never even thought of following any rules while writing. They write what and how they feel and if they’re lucky their books will sell, but they don’t really write for the public, they write for themselves. Which must be the reason why our big publishing houses won’t bother with Romanian authors, but publish international bestsellers instead – knowing those should sell. Publishers think in terms of commerce; Romanian writers think in terms of ‘literature for the sake of literature’. That is why some time ago, as I joined Critique Circle, I was surprised to find out there were actual rules that one ought to follow in order to write a good book. I would have never guessed, for instance, that one should not use many adverbs. Or that one shouldn’t begin with a description (most of the famous Romanian novels we’ve studied in school actually do begin with descriptions), etc
    I find rules restricting, but as I started reading Jack Bickham’s THE 38 MOST COMMON FICTION WRITING MISTAKES (And How To Avoid Them) I realised what he said made sense. I’ve got two more books by the same Mr. Bickham – from the Elements Of Fction Writing series – one on ‘Scene and Structure’, and one on ‘Setting’. Since Mr. Bickham is an experienced teacher, I can easily relate to his approach and adapt his advice to what I want to do (or the other way round LOL). These days I’ve developed a tendency to analyse other people’s books and see if they follow any rules. I think it depends on the editors really :p – the authors themselves would rather be ‘free’. Is it a good or a bad thing George Eliot did not have a very demanding editor? Can you imagine Middlemarch without those mindcurling (is there such a word? =)) ) opening paragraphs?

    Reply
  3. I’ve had the opportunity to talk to several Romanian writers and they’ve never even thought of following any rules while writing. They write what and how they feel and if they’re lucky their books will sell, but they don’t really write for the public, they write for themselves. Which must be the reason why our big publishing houses won’t bother with Romanian authors, but publish international bestsellers instead – knowing those should sell. Publishers think in terms of commerce; Romanian writers think in terms of ‘literature for the sake of literature’. That is why some time ago, as I joined Critique Circle, I was surprised to find out there were actual rules that one ought to follow in order to write a good book. I would have never guessed, for instance, that one should not use many adverbs. Or that one shouldn’t begin with a description (most of the famous Romanian novels we’ve studied in school actually do begin with descriptions), etc
    I find rules restricting, but as I started reading Jack Bickham’s THE 38 MOST COMMON FICTION WRITING MISTAKES (And How To Avoid Them) I realised what he said made sense. I’ve got two more books by the same Mr. Bickham – from the Elements Of Fction Writing series – one on ‘Scene and Structure’, and one on ‘Setting’. Since Mr. Bickham is an experienced teacher, I can easily relate to his approach and adapt his advice to what I want to do (or the other way round LOL). These days I’ve developed a tendency to analyse other people’s books and see if they follow any rules. I think it depends on the editors really :p – the authors themselves would rather be ‘free’. Is it a good or a bad thing George Eliot did not have a very demanding editor? Can you imagine Middlemarch without those mindcurling (is there such a word? =)) ) opening paragraphs?

    Reply
  4. I’ve had the opportunity to talk to several Romanian writers and they’ve never even thought of following any rules while writing. They write what and how they feel and if they’re lucky their books will sell, but they don’t really write for the public, they write for themselves. Which must be the reason why our big publishing houses won’t bother with Romanian authors, but publish international bestsellers instead – knowing those should sell. Publishers think in terms of commerce; Romanian writers think in terms of ‘literature for the sake of literature’. That is why some time ago, as I joined Critique Circle, I was surprised to find out there were actual rules that one ought to follow in order to write a good book. I would have never guessed, for instance, that one should not use many adverbs. Or that one shouldn’t begin with a description (most of the famous Romanian novels we’ve studied in school actually do begin with descriptions), etc
    I find rules restricting, but as I started reading Jack Bickham’s THE 38 MOST COMMON FICTION WRITING MISTAKES (And How To Avoid Them) I realised what he said made sense. I’ve got two more books by the same Mr. Bickham – from the Elements Of Fction Writing series – one on ‘Scene and Structure’, and one on ‘Setting’. Since Mr. Bickham is an experienced teacher, I can easily relate to his approach and adapt his advice to what I want to do (or the other way round LOL). These days I’ve developed a tendency to analyse other people’s books and see if they follow any rules. I think it depends on the editors really :p – the authors themselves would rather be ‘free’. Is it a good or a bad thing George Eliot did not have a very demanding editor? Can you imagine Middlemarch without those mindcurling (is there such a word? =)) ) opening paragraphs?

    Reply
  5. I’ve had the opportunity to talk to several Romanian writers and they’ve never even thought of following any rules while writing. They write what and how they feel and if they’re lucky their books will sell, but they don’t really write for the public, they write for themselves. Which must be the reason why our big publishing houses won’t bother with Romanian authors, but publish international bestsellers instead – knowing those should sell. Publishers think in terms of commerce; Romanian writers think in terms of ‘literature for the sake of literature’. That is why some time ago, as I joined Critique Circle, I was surprised to find out there were actual rules that one ought to follow in order to write a good book. I would have never guessed, for instance, that one should not use many adverbs. Or that one shouldn’t begin with a description (most of the famous Romanian novels we’ve studied in school actually do begin with descriptions), etc
    I find rules restricting, but as I started reading Jack Bickham’s THE 38 MOST COMMON FICTION WRITING MISTAKES (And How To Avoid Them) I realised what he said made sense. I’ve got two more books by the same Mr. Bickham – from the Elements Of Fction Writing series – one on ‘Scene and Structure’, and one on ‘Setting’. Since Mr. Bickham is an experienced teacher, I can easily relate to his approach and adapt his advice to what I want to do (or the other way round LOL). These days I’ve developed a tendency to analyse other people’s books and see if they follow any rules. I think it depends on the editors really :p – the authors themselves would rather be ‘free’. Is it a good or a bad thing George Eliot did not have a very demanding editor? Can you imagine Middlemarch without those mindcurling (is there such a word? =)) ) opening paragraphs?

    Reply
  6. Oana-Maria, I have never had any editor tell me what or how to write, and I don’t believe that there are absolute rules for writing — if it works, it works — but there are conventions, and any new writer is well advised to understand why they exist and how they work. Then, discarding them or adopting them is a matter of choice on the part of the writer. I think some books of writing advice can help a writer to communicate better and more effectively. I know Jack Bickham’s work and he’s one of the good ones.

    Reply
  7. Oana-Maria, I have never had any editor tell me what or how to write, and I don’t believe that there are absolute rules for writing — if it works, it works — but there are conventions, and any new writer is well advised to understand why they exist and how they work. Then, discarding them or adopting them is a matter of choice on the part of the writer. I think some books of writing advice can help a writer to communicate better and more effectively. I know Jack Bickham’s work and he’s one of the good ones.

    Reply
  8. Oana-Maria, I have never had any editor tell me what or how to write, and I don’t believe that there are absolute rules for writing — if it works, it works — but there are conventions, and any new writer is well advised to understand why they exist and how they work. Then, discarding them or adopting them is a matter of choice on the part of the writer. I think some books of writing advice can help a writer to communicate better and more effectively. I know Jack Bickham’s work and he’s one of the good ones.

    Reply
  9. Oana-Maria, I have never had any editor tell me what or how to write, and I don’t believe that there are absolute rules for writing — if it works, it works — but there are conventions, and any new writer is well advised to understand why they exist and how they work. Then, discarding them or adopting them is a matter of choice on the part of the writer. I think some books of writing advice can help a writer to communicate better and more effectively. I know Jack Bickham’s work and he’s one of the good ones.

    Reply
  10. Oana-Maria, I have never had any editor tell me what or how to write, and I don’t believe that there are absolute rules for writing — if it works, it works — but there are conventions, and any new writer is well advised to understand why they exist and how they work. Then, discarding them or adopting them is a matter of choice on the part of the writer. I think some books of writing advice can help a writer to communicate better and more effectively. I know Jack Bickham’s work and he’s one of the good ones.

    Reply
  11. Random thought: I can’t think of any books on writing in Romanian. o.O
    In primary and middle school lots of Romanian teachers ask their students to identify recurrent elements in literature and use them in ‘compositions’ of their own, thus encouraging an excess of stereotypes. Then in high school (good) Romanian teachers tell their students to avoid stereotypes – no wonder young people become quite confused. They are supposed to be able to discriminate as they grow up, but most of them just can’t – without getting clear examples and explanations. Since high school teachers already have too much literature to deal with because of the national curriculum, they can hardly find any time to spend on creative writing. Talented students are encouraged to write without being told how to.
    I don’t teach Romanian. I teach foreign languages. I am expected to help my students develop some writing skills in English, for instance, but they are very young and I need them to learn grammar and vocabulary first. (My youngest students are 6 and my oldest are 15.) And – when having to do some writing – they actually need rules. They struggle with the fact that they think they know how to write in Romanian and they can’t do the same in foreign languages, so many of them just give up.
    I know, writing skills in class are not what we were talking about earlier. As I said: just some random thoughts.

    Reply
  12. Random thought: I can’t think of any books on writing in Romanian. o.O
    In primary and middle school lots of Romanian teachers ask their students to identify recurrent elements in literature and use them in ‘compositions’ of their own, thus encouraging an excess of stereotypes. Then in high school (good) Romanian teachers tell their students to avoid stereotypes – no wonder young people become quite confused. They are supposed to be able to discriminate as they grow up, but most of them just can’t – without getting clear examples and explanations. Since high school teachers already have too much literature to deal with because of the national curriculum, they can hardly find any time to spend on creative writing. Talented students are encouraged to write without being told how to.
    I don’t teach Romanian. I teach foreign languages. I am expected to help my students develop some writing skills in English, for instance, but they are very young and I need them to learn grammar and vocabulary first. (My youngest students are 6 and my oldest are 15.) And – when having to do some writing – they actually need rules. They struggle with the fact that they think they know how to write in Romanian and they can’t do the same in foreign languages, so many of them just give up.
    I know, writing skills in class are not what we were talking about earlier. As I said: just some random thoughts.

    Reply
  13. Random thought: I can’t think of any books on writing in Romanian. o.O
    In primary and middle school lots of Romanian teachers ask their students to identify recurrent elements in literature and use them in ‘compositions’ of their own, thus encouraging an excess of stereotypes. Then in high school (good) Romanian teachers tell their students to avoid stereotypes – no wonder young people become quite confused. They are supposed to be able to discriminate as they grow up, but most of them just can’t – without getting clear examples and explanations. Since high school teachers already have too much literature to deal with because of the national curriculum, they can hardly find any time to spend on creative writing. Talented students are encouraged to write without being told how to.
    I don’t teach Romanian. I teach foreign languages. I am expected to help my students develop some writing skills in English, for instance, but they are very young and I need them to learn grammar and vocabulary first. (My youngest students are 6 and my oldest are 15.) And – when having to do some writing – they actually need rules. They struggle with the fact that they think they know how to write in Romanian and they can’t do the same in foreign languages, so many of them just give up.
    I know, writing skills in class are not what we were talking about earlier. As I said: just some random thoughts.

    Reply
  14. Random thought: I can’t think of any books on writing in Romanian. o.O
    In primary and middle school lots of Romanian teachers ask their students to identify recurrent elements in literature and use them in ‘compositions’ of their own, thus encouraging an excess of stereotypes. Then in high school (good) Romanian teachers tell their students to avoid stereotypes – no wonder young people become quite confused. They are supposed to be able to discriminate as they grow up, but most of them just can’t – without getting clear examples and explanations. Since high school teachers already have too much literature to deal with because of the national curriculum, they can hardly find any time to spend on creative writing. Talented students are encouraged to write without being told how to.
    I don’t teach Romanian. I teach foreign languages. I am expected to help my students develop some writing skills in English, for instance, but they are very young and I need them to learn grammar and vocabulary first. (My youngest students are 6 and my oldest are 15.) And – when having to do some writing – they actually need rules. They struggle with the fact that they think they know how to write in Romanian and they can’t do the same in foreign languages, so many of them just give up.
    I know, writing skills in class are not what we were talking about earlier. As I said: just some random thoughts.

    Reply
  15. Random thought: I can’t think of any books on writing in Romanian. o.O
    In primary and middle school lots of Romanian teachers ask their students to identify recurrent elements in literature and use them in ‘compositions’ of their own, thus encouraging an excess of stereotypes. Then in high school (good) Romanian teachers tell their students to avoid stereotypes – no wonder young people become quite confused. They are supposed to be able to discriminate as they grow up, but most of them just can’t – without getting clear examples and explanations. Since high school teachers already have too much literature to deal with because of the national curriculum, they can hardly find any time to spend on creative writing. Talented students are encouraged to write without being told how to.
    I don’t teach Romanian. I teach foreign languages. I am expected to help my students develop some writing skills in English, for instance, but they are very young and I need them to learn grammar and vocabulary first. (My youngest students are 6 and my oldest are 15.) And – when having to do some writing – they actually need rules. They struggle with the fact that they think they know how to write in Romanian and they can’t do the same in foreign languages, so many of them just give up.
    I know, writing skills in class are not what we were talking about earlier. As I said: just some random thoughts.

    Reply
  16. I’m not a writer; however, I’ve read and enjoyed many of the books mentioned above. Many books about writing are well written and thus pleasurable reads. Thanks for an enjoyable post.

    Reply
  17. I’m not a writer; however, I’ve read and enjoyed many of the books mentioned above. Many books about writing are well written and thus pleasurable reads. Thanks for an enjoyable post.

    Reply
  18. I’m not a writer; however, I’ve read and enjoyed many of the books mentioned above. Many books about writing are well written and thus pleasurable reads. Thanks for an enjoyable post.

    Reply
  19. I’m not a writer; however, I’ve read and enjoyed many of the books mentioned above. Many books about writing are well written and thus pleasurable reads. Thanks for an enjoyable post.

    Reply
  20. I’m not a writer; however, I’ve read and enjoyed many of the books mentioned above. Many books about writing are well written and thus pleasurable reads. Thanks for an enjoyable post.

    Reply
  21. The Stephen King book was a compulsory purchase for my first semester of my writing degree. It was a new book then, but I still see it recommended everywhere.
    I have my paperback copy of it somewhere – I should dig it out and do a reread. 🙂

    Reply
  22. The Stephen King book was a compulsory purchase for my first semester of my writing degree. It was a new book then, but I still see it recommended everywhere.
    I have my paperback copy of it somewhere – I should dig it out and do a reread. 🙂

    Reply
  23. The Stephen King book was a compulsory purchase for my first semester of my writing degree. It was a new book then, but I still see it recommended everywhere.
    I have my paperback copy of it somewhere – I should dig it out and do a reread. 🙂

    Reply
  24. The Stephen King book was a compulsory purchase for my first semester of my writing degree. It was a new book then, but I still see it recommended everywhere.
    I have my paperback copy of it somewhere – I should dig it out and do a reread. 🙂

    Reply
  25. The Stephen King book was a compulsory purchase for my first semester of my writing degree. It was a new book then, but I still see it recommended everywhere.
    I have my paperback copy of it somewhere – I should dig it out and do a reread. 🙂

    Reply
  26. I hope you won’t mind my asking if you had to write a dissertation paper/ thesis for your degree (I’m not sure what requirements there may be in other countries) and, if you wrote one: what was it about? (Mine was The Use of Colours in Federico Garcia Lorca’s Romancero gitano – written in Spanish.)

    Reply
  27. I hope you won’t mind my asking if you had to write a dissertation paper/ thesis for your degree (I’m not sure what requirements there may be in other countries) and, if you wrote one: what was it about? (Mine was The Use of Colours in Federico Garcia Lorca’s Romancero gitano – written in Spanish.)

    Reply
  28. I hope you won’t mind my asking if you had to write a dissertation paper/ thesis for your degree (I’m not sure what requirements there may be in other countries) and, if you wrote one: what was it about? (Mine was The Use of Colours in Federico Garcia Lorca’s Romancero gitano – written in Spanish.)

    Reply
  29. I hope you won’t mind my asking if you had to write a dissertation paper/ thesis for your degree (I’m not sure what requirements there may be in other countries) and, if you wrote one: what was it about? (Mine was The Use of Colours in Federico Garcia Lorca’s Romancero gitano – written in Spanish.)

    Reply
  30. I hope you won’t mind my asking if you had to write a dissertation paper/ thesis for your degree (I’m not sure what requirements there may be in other countries) and, if you wrote one: what was it about? (Mine was The Use of Colours in Federico Garcia Lorca’s Romancero gitano – written in Spanish.)

    Reply
  31. I loathe horror so don’t read Stephen King’s novels but enjoyed Kn Writing and will happily go. back to that. Randy Ingermansen’s The Snowflake Method was also fun and helps me a lot, but I think the best advice I’ve received is from workshops and from talking to other writers.

    Reply
  32. I loathe horror so don’t read Stephen King’s novels but enjoyed Kn Writing and will happily go. back to that. Randy Ingermansen’s The Snowflake Method was also fun and helps me a lot, but I think the best advice I’ve received is from workshops and from talking to other writers.

    Reply
  33. I loathe horror so don’t read Stephen King’s novels but enjoyed Kn Writing and will happily go. back to that. Randy Ingermansen’s The Snowflake Method was also fun and helps me a lot, but I think the best advice I’ve received is from workshops and from talking to other writers.

    Reply
  34. I loathe horror so don’t read Stephen King’s novels but enjoyed Kn Writing and will happily go. back to that. Randy Ingermansen’s The Snowflake Method was also fun and helps me a lot, but I think the best advice I’ve received is from workshops and from talking to other writers.

    Reply
  35. I loathe horror so don’t read Stephen King’s novels but enjoyed Kn Writing and will happily go. back to that. Randy Ingermansen’s The Snowflake Method was also fun and helps me a lot, but I think the best advice I’ve received is from workshops and from talking to other writers.

    Reply
  36. I enjoyed the Stephen King book as memoir, but I’ve never found any book on writing particularly useful. At any rate, not as useful as rereading. I do a lot of rereading as a kind of research. (Also for pleasure.) I have a bunch of books I keep on hand because I particularly admire them. There are times when I will go to one thinking, “What did she do to that character so vivid in my mind?” or to another wondering, “How did she keep that action scene moving along?”
    But then, I’ve always needed concrete examples to understand a concept. I was always the one saying, “Can you give me an example?”

    Reply
  37. I enjoyed the Stephen King book as memoir, but I’ve never found any book on writing particularly useful. At any rate, not as useful as rereading. I do a lot of rereading as a kind of research. (Also for pleasure.) I have a bunch of books I keep on hand because I particularly admire them. There are times when I will go to one thinking, “What did she do to that character so vivid in my mind?” or to another wondering, “How did she keep that action scene moving along?”
    But then, I’ve always needed concrete examples to understand a concept. I was always the one saying, “Can you give me an example?”

    Reply
  38. I enjoyed the Stephen King book as memoir, but I’ve never found any book on writing particularly useful. At any rate, not as useful as rereading. I do a lot of rereading as a kind of research. (Also for pleasure.) I have a bunch of books I keep on hand because I particularly admire them. There are times when I will go to one thinking, “What did she do to that character so vivid in my mind?” or to another wondering, “How did she keep that action scene moving along?”
    But then, I’ve always needed concrete examples to understand a concept. I was always the one saying, “Can you give me an example?”

    Reply
  39. I enjoyed the Stephen King book as memoir, but I’ve never found any book on writing particularly useful. At any rate, not as useful as rereading. I do a lot of rereading as a kind of research. (Also for pleasure.) I have a bunch of books I keep on hand because I particularly admire them. There are times when I will go to one thinking, “What did she do to that character so vivid in my mind?” or to another wondering, “How did she keep that action scene moving along?”
    But then, I’ve always needed concrete examples to understand a concept. I was always the one saying, “Can you give me an example?”

    Reply
  40. I enjoyed the Stephen King book as memoir, but I’ve never found any book on writing particularly useful. At any rate, not as useful as rereading. I do a lot of rereading as a kind of research. (Also for pleasure.) I have a bunch of books I keep on hand because I particularly admire them. There are times when I will go to one thinking, “What did she do to that character so vivid in my mind?” or to another wondering, “How did she keep that action scene moving along?”
    But then, I’ve always needed concrete examples to understand a concept. I was always the one saying, “Can you give me an example?”

    Reply
  41. I’ve never been big on writing craft books either. I often can’t get my mind to think in the ways those books want you to think in, if that makes sense. Most of writing comes from learning as you go. But I have found a few helpful–Bird by Bird is one. Plot and Structure by James Scott Bell was great, since plotting is one of the things I struggle with. I also liked the variety of advice in the Insecure Writer’s Support Group Guide to Publishing and Beyond.

    Reply
  42. I’ve never been big on writing craft books either. I often can’t get my mind to think in the ways those books want you to think in, if that makes sense. Most of writing comes from learning as you go. But I have found a few helpful–Bird by Bird is one. Plot and Structure by James Scott Bell was great, since plotting is one of the things I struggle with. I also liked the variety of advice in the Insecure Writer’s Support Group Guide to Publishing and Beyond.

    Reply
  43. I’ve never been big on writing craft books either. I often can’t get my mind to think in the ways those books want you to think in, if that makes sense. Most of writing comes from learning as you go. But I have found a few helpful–Bird by Bird is one. Plot and Structure by James Scott Bell was great, since plotting is one of the things I struggle with. I also liked the variety of advice in the Insecure Writer’s Support Group Guide to Publishing and Beyond.

    Reply
  44. I’ve never been big on writing craft books either. I often can’t get my mind to think in the ways those books want you to think in, if that makes sense. Most of writing comes from learning as you go. But I have found a few helpful–Bird by Bird is one. Plot and Structure by James Scott Bell was great, since plotting is one of the things I struggle with. I also liked the variety of advice in the Insecure Writer’s Support Group Guide to Publishing and Beyond.

    Reply
  45. I’ve never been big on writing craft books either. I often can’t get my mind to think in the ways those books want you to think in, if that makes sense. Most of writing comes from learning as you go. But I have found a few helpful–Bird by Bird is one. Plot and Structure by James Scott Bell was great, since plotting is one of the things I struggle with. I also liked the variety of advice in the Insecure Writer’s Support Group Guide to Publishing and Beyond.

    Reply
  46. Thanks, Kareni — yes, some of the books mentioned are just plain good reads, whether you’re interested in writing or not. I’m not a fan of horror, so have never read Stephen King’s novels, but his memoir On Writing is wonderful.

    Reply
  47. Thanks, Kareni — yes, some of the books mentioned are just plain good reads, whether you’re interested in writing or not. I’m not a fan of horror, so have never read Stephen King’s novels, but his memoir On Writing is wonderful.

    Reply
  48. Thanks, Kareni — yes, some of the books mentioned are just plain good reads, whether you’re interested in writing or not. I’m not a fan of horror, so have never read Stephen King’s novels, but his memoir On Writing is wonderful.

    Reply
  49. Thanks, Kareni — yes, some of the books mentioned are just plain good reads, whether you’re interested in writing or not. I’m not a fan of horror, so have never read Stephen King’s novels, but his memoir On Writing is wonderful.

    Reply
  50. Thanks, Kareni — yes, some of the books mentioned are just plain good reads, whether you’re interested in writing or not. I’m not a fan of horror, so have never read Stephen King’s novels, but his memoir On Writing is wonderful.

    Reply
  51. Sonya, a friend of mine bought it to read on the plane on the way to a conference. She gave it to me, and I spent half the conference reading it. Might be time for a reread for me as well.

    Reply
  52. Sonya, a friend of mine bought it to read on the plane on the way to a conference. She gave it to me, and I spent half the conference reading it. Might be time for a reread for me as well.

    Reply
  53. Sonya, a friend of mine bought it to read on the plane on the way to a conference. She gave it to me, and I spent half the conference reading it. Might be time for a reread for me as well.

    Reply
  54. Sonya, a friend of mine bought it to read on the plane on the way to a conference. She gave it to me, and I spent half the conference reading it. Might be time for a reread for me as well.

    Reply
  55. Sonya, a friend of mine bought it to read on the plane on the way to a conference. She gave it to me, and I spent half the conference reading it. Might be time for a reread for me as well.

    Reply
  56. Lillian, I also get writing students to do that — look at the effect the writer has created, because it’s all done with words. Rearrange the order, change the length of the sentences, add in more description, pare back the number of words — and look at the various effects.

    Reply
  57. Lillian, I also get writing students to do that — look at the effect the writer has created, because it’s all done with words. Rearrange the order, change the length of the sentences, add in more description, pare back the number of words — and look at the various effects.

    Reply
  58. Lillian, I also get writing students to do that — look at the effect the writer has created, because it’s all done with words. Rearrange the order, change the length of the sentences, add in more description, pare back the number of words — and look at the various effects.

    Reply
  59. Lillian, I also get writing students to do that — look at the effect the writer has created, because it’s all done with words. Rearrange the order, change the length of the sentences, add in more description, pare back the number of words — and look at the various effects.

    Reply
  60. Lillian, I also get writing students to do that — look at the effect the writer has created, because it’s all done with words. Rearrange the order, change the length of the sentences, add in more description, pare back the number of words — and look at the various effects.

    Reply
  61. As I have mentioned, I don’t write fiction. My other writing skills were learned on the job — at college and more importantly as i began working for a textbook editor.
    I HAVe heard many writers discuss writing. It is a favorite interaction at Science Fiction conventions. Both at panels dedicated to writing, and general panels, and at general talks. I have “worked” at SF conventions in the Green Room and have heard various authors discussing their writing among themselves.
    They all seem to agree with what you have said above. “Writing is individual.” The best instruction is to write and rewrite until you “get it right.”
    Many of these authors have written interesting essays on how they write. I have enjoyed reading them. I never considered them as “how to” books. I don’t truly believe they really work.
    I own Strunk and White and consult it frequently.

    Reply
  62. As I have mentioned, I don’t write fiction. My other writing skills were learned on the job — at college and more importantly as i began working for a textbook editor.
    I HAVe heard many writers discuss writing. It is a favorite interaction at Science Fiction conventions. Both at panels dedicated to writing, and general panels, and at general talks. I have “worked” at SF conventions in the Green Room and have heard various authors discussing their writing among themselves.
    They all seem to agree with what you have said above. “Writing is individual.” The best instruction is to write and rewrite until you “get it right.”
    Many of these authors have written interesting essays on how they write. I have enjoyed reading them. I never considered them as “how to” books. I don’t truly believe they really work.
    I own Strunk and White and consult it frequently.

    Reply
  63. As I have mentioned, I don’t write fiction. My other writing skills were learned on the job — at college and more importantly as i began working for a textbook editor.
    I HAVe heard many writers discuss writing. It is a favorite interaction at Science Fiction conventions. Both at panels dedicated to writing, and general panels, and at general talks. I have “worked” at SF conventions in the Green Room and have heard various authors discussing their writing among themselves.
    They all seem to agree with what you have said above. “Writing is individual.” The best instruction is to write and rewrite until you “get it right.”
    Many of these authors have written interesting essays on how they write. I have enjoyed reading them. I never considered them as “how to” books. I don’t truly believe they really work.
    I own Strunk and White and consult it frequently.

    Reply
  64. As I have mentioned, I don’t write fiction. My other writing skills were learned on the job — at college and more importantly as i began working for a textbook editor.
    I HAVe heard many writers discuss writing. It is a favorite interaction at Science Fiction conventions. Both at panels dedicated to writing, and general panels, and at general talks. I have “worked” at SF conventions in the Green Room and have heard various authors discussing their writing among themselves.
    They all seem to agree with what you have said above. “Writing is individual.” The best instruction is to write and rewrite until you “get it right.”
    Many of these authors have written interesting essays on how they write. I have enjoyed reading them. I never considered them as “how to” books. I don’t truly believe they really work.
    I own Strunk and White and consult it frequently.

    Reply
  65. As I have mentioned, I don’t write fiction. My other writing skills were learned on the job — at college and more importantly as i began working for a textbook editor.
    I HAVe heard many writers discuss writing. It is a favorite interaction at Science Fiction conventions. Both at panels dedicated to writing, and general panels, and at general talks. I have “worked” at SF conventions in the Green Room and have heard various authors discussing their writing among themselves.
    They all seem to agree with what you have said above. “Writing is individual.” The best instruction is to write and rewrite until you “get it right.”
    Many of these authors have written interesting essays on how they write. I have enjoyed reading them. I never considered them as “how to” books. I don’t truly believe they really work.
    I own Strunk and White and consult it frequently.

    Reply
  66. I have read several of the books on craft mentioned and have taken classes on writing. However, I find that writing is like my sewing– just reading about how to do it doesn’t cut it. I need someone to point out actual weak points and then suggest ways to fix them. I don’t have this so bumble along trying to reduce WIP to finished projects and forgetting my failures in reading the works of those authors I feel have succeeded. Trying to overcome my tendency to rewrite first chapters 20 times– I have enough pages in rejected first chapters to have several finished books. I like the book with a title something like 40 Mistakes authors make and need to haul it out and read it again. I don’t know that reading Dixon’s GMC again will help me understand it in terms of my characters. I am not usually so dense.

    Reply
  67. I have read several of the books on craft mentioned and have taken classes on writing. However, I find that writing is like my sewing– just reading about how to do it doesn’t cut it. I need someone to point out actual weak points and then suggest ways to fix them. I don’t have this so bumble along trying to reduce WIP to finished projects and forgetting my failures in reading the works of those authors I feel have succeeded. Trying to overcome my tendency to rewrite first chapters 20 times– I have enough pages in rejected first chapters to have several finished books. I like the book with a title something like 40 Mistakes authors make and need to haul it out and read it again. I don’t know that reading Dixon’s GMC again will help me understand it in terms of my characters. I am not usually so dense.

    Reply
  68. I have read several of the books on craft mentioned and have taken classes on writing. However, I find that writing is like my sewing– just reading about how to do it doesn’t cut it. I need someone to point out actual weak points and then suggest ways to fix them. I don’t have this so bumble along trying to reduce WIP to finished projects and forgetting my failures in reading the works of those authors I feel have succeeded. Trying to overcome my tendency to rewrite first chapters 20 times– I have enough pages in rejected first chapters to have several finished books. I like the book with a title something like 40 Mistakes authors make and need to haul it out and read it again. I don’t know that reading Dixon’s GMC again will help me understand it in terms of my characters. I am not usually so dense.

    Reply
  69. I have read several of the books on craft mentioned and have taken classes on writing. However, I find that writing is like my sewing– just reading about how to do it doesn’t cut it. I need someone to point out actual weak points and then suggest ways to fix them. I don’t have this so bumble along trying to reduce WIP to finished projects and forgetting my failures in reading the works of those authors I feel have succeeded. Trying to overcome my tendency to rewrite first chapters 20 times– I have enough pages in rejected first chapters to have several finished books. I like the book with a title something like 40 Mistakes authors make and need to haul it out and read it again. I don’t know that reading Dixon’s GMC again will help me understand it in terms of my characters. I am not usually so dense.

    Reply
  70. I have read several of the books on craft mentioned and have taken classes on writing. However, I find that writing is like my sewing– just reading about how to do it doesn’t cut it. I need someone to point out actual weak points and then suggest ways to fix them. I don’t have this so bumble along trying to reduce WIP to finished projects and forgetting my failures in reading the works of those authors I feel have succeeded. Trying to overcome my tendency to rewrite first chapters 20 times– I have enough pages in rejected first chapters to have several finished books. I like the book with a title something like 40 Mistakes authors make and need to haul it out and read it again. I don’t know that reading Dixon’s GMC again will help me understand it in terms of my characters. I am not usually so dense.

    Reply
  71. I keep hearing more and more praise for Stephen King’s book, so I do intend to pick it up and give it a try. So many books and only so much time!

    Reply
  72. I keep hearing more and more praise for Stephen King’s book, so I do intend to pick it up and give it a try. So many books and only so much time!

    Reply
  73. I keep hearing more and more praise for Stephen King’s book, so I do intend to pick it up and give it a try. So many books and only so much time!

    Reply
  74. I keep hearing more and more praise for Stephen King’s book, so I do intend to pick it up and give it a try. So many books and only so much time!

    Reply
  75. I keep hearing more and more praise for Stephen King’s book, so I do intend to pick it up and give it a try. So many books and only so much time!

    Reply
  76. I have read several of the books mentioned, I’ve attended a few workshops, and I’ve taken online classes. I learned enough and got enough inspiration from the above to finish a first draft of THAT novel. Right now, I just travel to places “doing research.” I have an idea for a second novel, but while the days are long and places are open, I find myself touring and thinking. Now, I’m wondering if I need to add writing books to my TBR pile of work books, gardening books, and fiction. And maybe I”ll take the suggestion to re-read favorites and see what I can learn from that. Thanks for the titles!

    Reply
  77. I have read several of the books mentioned, I’ve attended a few workshops, and I’ve taken online classes. I learned enough and got enough inspiration from the above to finish a first draft of THAT novel. Right now, I just travel to places “doing research.” I have an idea for a second novel, but while the days are long and places are open, I find myself touring and thinking. Now, I’m wondering if I need to add writing books to my TBR pile of work books, gardening books, and fiction. And maybe I”ll take the suggestion to re-read favorites and see what I can learn from that. Thanks for the titles!

    Reply
  78. I have read several of the books mentioned, I’ve attended a few workshops, and I’ve taken online classes. I learned enough and got enough inspiration from the above to finish a first draft of THAT novel. Right now, I just travel to places “doing research.” I have an idea for a second novel, but while the days are long and places are open, I find myself touring and thinking. Now, I’m wondering if I need to add writing books to my TBR pile of work books, gardening books, and fiction. And maybe I”ll take the suggestion to re-read favorites and see what I can learn from that. Thanks for the titles!

    Reply
  79. I have read several of the books mentioned, I’ve attended a few workshops, and I’ve taken online classes. I learned enough and got enough inspiration from the above to finish a first draft of THAT novel. Right now, I just travel to places “doing research.” I have an idea for a second novel, but while the days are long and places are open, I find myself touring and thinking. Now, I’m wondering if I need to add writing books to my TBR pile of work books, gardening books, and fiction. And maybe I”ll take the suggestion to re-read favorites and see what I can learn from that. Thanks for the titles!

    Reply
  80. I have read several of the books mentioned, I’ve attended a few workshops, and I’ve taken online classes. I learned enough and got enough inspiration from the above to finish a first draft of THAT novel. Right now, I just travel to places “doing research.” I have an idea for a second novel, but while the days are long and places are open, I find myself touring and thinking. Now, I’m wondering if I need to add writing books to my TBR pile of work books, gardening books, and fiction. And maybe I”ll take the suggestion to re-read favorites and see what I can learn from that. Thanks for the titles!

    Reply

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