This post came to mind when I was browsing Amazon for Rosie Amber’s Friday Five Challenge. I decided to have a look at books about writing and was amazed at how many there were. Overwhelmed, I abandoned that category and went on to ‘Horror’, but it did get me thinking about how a would-be writer, or a writer who wants to improve, would be able to wade through all those books and manage to find something that would actually help.
So I browsed my own bookshelves (they contain just slightly fewer books than Amazon!) and my Kindle, and picked out the books that have helped me write. Some I read years ago, others only recently. I’ve kept it to five – I do think that a lot of books repeat the same information. Anyway, I hope these help.
1) For new writers, old writers, published, self-published, not published, in short for any writer, I cannot recommend this strongly enough:
This is a fabulous book. Part memoir, part masterclass in writing, it’s entertaining, thought-provoking, eye-opening, sensible and inspirational, all at once. Of course, Stephen King could make anything entertaining. Basically, writers need to read this book.
2) If you’re serious about writing you need to read. It’s how writers learn. This wonderful book, by the rather aptly named Francine Prose, shows you how to use that reading experience to improve your writing.
Looking at words, sentences, paragraphs, narration, character, dialogue, details and gesture, Prose shows how you can learn from the masters. There’s also a list of ‘Books to be Read Immediately’ (it’s a very long list).
3) I’ve been following Cynthia Harrison’s blog for a while now and was intrigued to see that she’s written a book on writing.
Straightforward, engaging, encouraging and accessible, this book is full of helpful exercises and prompts to get your writing going. The new edition includes a section on e-publishing, very helpful in today’s writing world.
4) I’m often described as pedantic. Fastidious even. Fussy. Well, at least when it comes to grammar. It frustrates me that correct grammar and punctuation don’t seem to regarded as important, that a lot of people don’t have a grasp of the rules that we need to make sure our writing is understood. So obviously I love this book.
I read it first many years ago. I know there are other books like it, but I think it’s still the best one out there. Grammar does matter, the rules are needed, and Truss explains why. And she has a sense of humour about it. Unlike me.
5) So that’s the creative and technical side dealt with. But once your book is written, there is another book that you should definitely invest in.
Aimed primarily at the UK market (sorry!) this guide is full of useful articles, including information about self-publishing, as well as over 4500 media listings. Invaluable. On my Christmas list every year.