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Recommended Books on Writing (1 Viewer)

Katastrof

Senior Member
I'm thinking of buying a book on writing to help improve my skills. I know it's not a substitution for practice, but I feel like having one well help me fine tune my writing quicker.

Anyways, I know The Elements of Style is a crucial book to have but what other writing fiction books would you recommend?
 

dwellerofthedeep

Senior Member
I like and have had others agree with me about Elements of Fiction: Beginnings, Middles and Ends by Nancy Kress. It really helped me with story structure over a longer work.
 

rumpole40k

Senior Member
Try Elmore Leonard's 10 Rules Of Writing if you are looking to refine your personal writing style rather than develop it.
 

Katastrof

Senior Member
Well I don't think it would hurt if I got a start-from-scratch book. I may not be a horrible writer but I am a humble person.
 

Michael

Senior Member
On Writing by Stephen King should be on everyone's bookshelf, regardless if you enjoy his works or not. There aren't a lot of technical lessons, but it's very educational for anyone that aspires to write.
 

Buddy Glass

Senior Member
Don't ever think, consider or opt to buy an academic book that tells your or - worse - teaches you how to write. Because the don't. Think about it; who do you think wrote them? Failed writers. Why did they fail? Well, it's all there in the book.

Read what real writers have to say about the matter. Hemingway, O'Connor, Carver, Rilke, Vargas Llosa - they've written insightful essays on aspects of creativity.
 

Mishki

Senior Member
Don't ever think, consider or opt to buy an academic book that tells your or - worse - teaches you how to write. Because the don't. Think about it; who do you think wrote them? Failed writers. Why did they fail? Well, it's all there in the book.

Stephen King, Robert McKee, and Francine Prose have written books on writing, and they're quite successful. And even so, their books helped me a lot less than books by authors that I've never, ever heard of did. Maybe teaching a subject well and knowing how perform it well aren't always inclusive of each other.

The book that taught me the most is James Scott Bell's Plot and Structure.
 

lemonavenue

Senior Member
Here are the books I liked:

The Writer's Book of Wisdom: 101 Rules for Mastering Your Craft by Steven Taylor Goldsberry
20 Master Plots and How to Build Them by Ronald B. Tobias
Character & Viewpoint by Orson Scott Card
How to Write Science Fiction & Fantasy by Orson Scott Card
Zen in the Art of Writing by Ray Bradbury

I see Buddy's point about not studying these kinds of books. There's one rule I always follow when reading a book on writing: It's okay to break the rules, if you know why the rules exist. In fact writing is not about following rules at all. Writing is exploritory, it's personal. You may have a map but you can still defer off the beaten path if something interests you, and you should always be looking for other paths, other rules. Usually when a book or a person tells me not to write something the first thing I do is come up with a situation where the very thing they told me not to do would actually be appropreate. And I rarely fail in this avenue, unless the advice is something so fundamental such as simply taking time each day to write something.

My personal title for Goldsberry's book is "The Writer's Book of Wisdom: 101 Guidelines for Mastering Your Craft," but don't search Amazon for that title. That's just what I call it.
 
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PageOfCups

Senior Member
Does any one else get uncomfortable when it comes to these kinds of books? It just seems to me like it's kind of cheating. Not to mention intrusive, writing in most cases is a very intimate process and to me it just seems that those books butting in to me.
 

Tiamat

Patron
Well then don't read them. You have to realize, nowadays, there's how-to books on just about every subject, not because they're really helpful but because they'll sell. People are a thousand times more comfortable reading how they should do something, rather than having a go at it and risking failure.

I'd bet my life savings that if the Complete Idiot's people wrote a book entitled Complete Idiot's Guide on How to Take a Proper Shite someone would buy it.

The point is if you feel better just diving in, then do it, but if you dive in and it doesn't work out the way you'd hoped, there's plenty of information out there to help you out.
 

chimchimski

Senior Member
Well this thread is somewhat old now...however, if any newbies see this thread and decide to take a peek and discover a good book, my two choices are

The Right to Write ~ Julia Cameron This book is great if you are a new writer and you are discovering your writing voice, or you are looking for inspiration and new ideas! I love this book.

The Art of Creative Writing ~ Lajos Egri Great for Character development, also, good for inspiration and motivation.
 

Lost in Some Story

Senior Member
Read what real writers have to say about the matter. Hemingway, O'Connor, Carver, Rilke, Vargas Llosa - they've written insightful essays on aspects of creativity.

I agree completely. Don't waste your time on the books in the "Writing" section of the bookstore.

Flannery O'Connor's essays and lectures on writing are collected in a book called "Mystery and Manners." It is priceless and potent advice for any writer. I don't know about you, but I'd take O'Connor's advice over just about anyone else's.

Lost
 

Flintenspiel

Senior Member
Does any one else get uncomfortable when it comes to these kinds of books? It just seems to me like it's kind of cheating. Not to mention intrusive, writing in most cases is a very intimate process and to me it just seems that those books butting in to me.

I'm with you. I feel that as these books can give a good guideline, or some author's expertise, the writing really comes from within, and each author has their own way they do it. That's not to say that these books are useless, I have probably five on my bookshelf. But I look to them more as take it or leave it advice, not writing scripture.
 
S

SAHMAuthor

I have two that I particularly like:

Write Away by Elizabeth George and How to Write and Sell Your First Novel by Oscar Collier and Frances Spatz Leighton.

I was looking for valuable tips on characterization and techniques for enhancing dramatics and building scene structure. Both of these books had good insight and advice.
 

TJ Cruse

Senior Member
I thought Sol Stein's - Stein on Writing was really good. Lots of practical advise and examples.

Tiamat10, let me know where to find that Idiot's Guide you were talking about. I fear I've been doing it wrong all these years ;)
 

LadySilence

Senior Member
Many people recommend the book
"Robert McKee Dialogue: the Art of Verbal Action for Stage, Page and Screen"
Is it a good book?
 

Pamelyn Casto

WF Veterans
I thought Sol Stein's - Stein on Writing was really good. Lots of practical advise and examples.

I find some "how-to" books on writing as literary as some of the finest writing that's actually considered "literary." I adore about seven or eight such books that I've picked up over the years. Sol Stein's book is one of them. It's a delight to read. And to read again. And then to read at least once more. You can tell how much I value a book by the number of markings in the book (underlining, margin notes, page bending, starring, etc.). The books I love are in such bad shape no one else would want them. Yes, Stein's book is definitely worth exploring.
 
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