Recommended books on how to write

  1. Toby Frost

    Toby Frost Well-Known Member

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    I suggest that this thread be used to recommend books on how to write.

    On Writing by Stephen King is very well known. It provides good and clear advice and is pretty sensible throughout. As you would expect, it is very readable and, apart from a few small digressions, stays on topic. It covers most elements of writing, from finding somewhere to sit to how to fine-tune a manuscript. Towards the end of the book, King talks in detail about editing and re-writing. Pretty much an essential read.

    How To Write Tales of Horror, Fantasy and Science Fiction, edited by J.N. Williamson. This is a collection of essays written around 1990 by some eminent SFF writers of the time, including Dean Koontz, Ramsey Campbell, Richard Matheson and Ray Bradbury. The first two thirds are extremely useful (this is the book I learned from, for what it's worth) but the last third, which deals with the market and gives lists of publications, is outdated. It also includes a suggested reading list, which is definitely worth a look. It may be out of print, but is available very cheaply second-hand on the internet.

    Danse Macabre by Stephen King is predominantly concerned with films, and does ramble somewhat. However, King's comments on how films work are useful to writers too. Also, in the second half, King examines half a dozen novels very closely and discusses their technique in considerable detail, which is very useful for the writer. Not essential, but helpful and engrossing.

    All of these were useful to me. I would recommend them for good advice and clarity, as well as being interesting in their own right.
     
  2. Brian G Turner

    Brian G Turner He's a very naughty boy! Staff Member

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    IMO the two big ones every aspiring writer should read are:

    Wonderbook by Jeff Vandermeer - everything on the technicalities, from basic to advanced. Concise and entertaining, too.
    Save the Cat by Blake Snyder - one of the best books on emotional development arcs for characters.
     
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  3. Toby Frost

    Toby Frost Well-Known Member

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    I must admit that I found Wonderbook pretty hard to follow, just because of the layout. But I think my mind is built for dealing with blocks of serious text so it may well be ideal for some people.
     
  4. MWagner

    MWagner Well-Known Member

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    Techniques of the Selling Writer by Dwight V Swain.

    I have around 10 books on writing fiction, including most of the best-regarded books on the subject out there, and Techniques of the Selling Writer has more practical content than the others put together. It's a remarkably dense and systematic book, which breaks narrative right down to the level of the scene and its purpose. I'll usually highlight the key points of a book on writing, and then copy those key points into a summary document. I can summarize other books in 1-2 pages of point-form text. I haven't attempted to summarize Techniques of the Selling Writer, as it would easily run to 15+ pages.

    But be warned - it isn't a warm or breezy read. It doesn't offer folksy advice, encouragement, or pithy humour. It's the hefty toolkit you inherited from your grandfather, full of monkey wrenches, hammers, and socket sets that bear the marks and wear of long-time use. There's good reason why it's been in print since 1965.
     
  5. TWErvin2

    TWErvin2 Well-Known Member

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    A book that covers a narrow aspect of writing that may be useful is Write the Fight Right by Alan Baxter.

    It's really a novelette that focuses on writing convincing fight scenes.
     
  6. tinkerdan

    tinkerdan candycane shrimp

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    I would recommend::
    Elements of Fiction Writing: Conflict and Suspense: James Scott Bell: 0035313653513: Amazon.com: Books
    Amazon.com: Self-Editing for Fiction Writers, Second Edition: How to Edit Yourself Into Print (9780060545697): Renni Browne, Dave King: Books
    Amazon.com: Writing the Breakout Novel: Insider Advice for Taking Your Fiction to the Next Level (9781582971827): Donald Maass: Books
    How to Write Science Fiction & Fantasy: Orson Scott Card: 0035313107832: Amazon.com: Books

    UK
    Writing the Breakout Novel: Winning Advice from a Top Agent and His Best-selling Client: Amazon.co.uk: Donald Maass: 9781582971827: Books
    How to Write Science Fiction and Fantasy: Amazon.co.uk: Orson Scott Card: 0035313107832: Books
    Elements of Fiction Writing - Conflict and Suspense: Amazon.co.uk: James Scott Bell: 0035313653513: Books
    Self-Editing for Fiction Writers, Second Edition: Amazon.co.uk: Renni Browne, Dave King: 9780060545697: Books



    Save the Cat: The Last Book on Screenwriting You'll Ever Need eBook: Blake Snyder: Amazon.co.uk: Kindle Store
    Save the Cat: The Last Book on Screenwriting You'll Ever Need: Blake Snyder: 9781615931712: Amazon.com: Books

    On Writing: Amazon.co.uk: Stephen King: 9781444723250: Books
    On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft: Stephen King: 8601400084076: Amazon.com: Books

    Wonderbook: The Illustrated Guide to Creating Imaginative Fiction: Jeff VanderMeer, Jeremy Zerfoss: 8601404557101: Amazon.com: Books
    Wonderbook: The Illustrated Guide to Creating Imaginative Fiction: Amazon.co.uk: Jeff VanderMeer, Jeremy Zerfoss: 8601404557101: Books
     
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2017
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  7. The Big Peat

    The Big Peat Well-Known Member

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    For those interested in Wonderbook, parts of VanderMeer's work are freely available to get a feel for it - here and here
     
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  8. Gonk the Insane

    Gonk the Insane A.J. Grimmelhaus

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    I've read several of these over the last couple of years (On Writing; Self-Editing for Fiction Writers;Writing the Breakout Novel; How to Write Science Fiction & Fantasy) and a few others. I've also read a brand-spanking new one that IMHO stands up proudly alongside them:

    The other half of my writing group, Andrew J. Chamberlain, has just released The Creative Writer's Toolbelt Handbook. I was one of Andy's beta readers so I've read the whole book and I think it's great. For the last few years Andy has been putting out a successful podcast series (The Creative Writer's Toolbelt) and the CWT Handbook is a collection of the best bits of advice and interviews from 100 podcasts.

    There's a lot of great advice and practical examples that are great particularly for new writers, but I think there's something in it for everyone. I learned a lot from it even after having read those books listed at the top, and would heartily recommend it to writers at any stage of development.

    There's further info available at the author's website and Andy is very approachable and (unlike myself:)) active on lots of social media (more info at his website).

    The podcasts can be found here (and I had some real fanboy moments listening to interviews with Peter F. Hamilton and others as well as learning lots:D).

    And some material from the Handbook can be found on my website where Andy's popped round for a spot of guest posting: The Two Must-Have Attributes for World-Building Part 1: The Credible Setting
     
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  9. SPoots

    SPoots Well-Known Member

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    The Writers And Artists Yearbook is invaluable, with lists of publications and agents as well as articles from established writers from a variety of fields of expertise.

    I'd also recommend Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. Not a book on writing, but invaluable for quick research and idea prompts.
     
  10. Hoverdasher

    Hoverdasher Well-Known Member

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    This was truly an amazing share-out. I've printed the printable, and I believe I would like to purchase the full book (Wonderbook), and On Writing. I am also going to purchase How to Save the Cat, it seemed to be mentioned that it was useful in character's emotional development, which I need to learn.

    Also, I am in dire need of any book suggestions on choosing point of view, when you have a book that has two siblings as the protagonists?? Do the ones mentioned already cover that?
     
  11. Brian G Turner

    Brian G Turner He's a very naughty boy! Staff Member

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    Wonderbook covers POV issues. :)
     
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