Recommended books on how to write

Jay Greenstein

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I have about fifty books in my library, and many of them are really good. But the best is Dwight Swain's, Techniques of the Selling Writer. He doesn't talk about stylistic issues. Instead, He focuses on the nuts and bolts issues, of what a scene is, and must be, and, the elements that make it up. Rather than, "Do this and then that," he provides an analysis of our objectives, and the ways that can be accomplished. Things like the issues a writer must address, quickly, on entering a scene so as to provide the reader with context—and how to make the trader feel they're living the story in real-time, as the protagonist. Areas aren't deeply covered in most of the books I've looked at.

As was mentioned earlier, it's not an easy book. But then, it was written by a professor at Oklahoma University, a man who used to fill auditoriums when he went on tour with hs all day writing workshops.

And that brings me to the condensed audio files of those lectures on writing, and on character development. They're available under the title, Dwight Swain, Master Writing Teacher, and cost about $6. They're worth the price for his anecdotes on writing, and how he made people plan how to commit murder with a doorknob, in order to leave his office.

Another, more gentle introduction was written by one of Swain's Students, Debra Dixon: GMC: Goal Motivation & Conflict (available for download online and in hard copy from Deb's site). It's a warm easy read, and the only one I've seen that tells the reader why a line like, "Susan smilled when Jack came through the door," is to be avoided.

A newer book by Jack BIckham, Scene and Structure, is more likely to be found in the local library system. It parallels Swain's book, which makes sense given that they taught together.

The thing I appreciate about all three is there is none of the usual, "Here, read this chapter of my book and I'll tell you why it's brilliant."

All three focus on the basics. For the advanced student, Donald Maass has a book written from the agent's perspective that will tell you who your book is getting rejected.

Hope this helps
 

Guillermo Stitch

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Has anybody mentioned Story Genius by Lisa Cron? I've only just acquired it but it comes HIGHLY recommended by a number of people whose opinions I rate.
 

Titus Groan

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Deep Work by Cal Newport is fantastic for those like me who have trouble sitting still and really pushing out a bigger word count in a writing session It helped me learn to sit with my confusion, or my not knowing what word choice or event would be best to write next, and really have a proper think about it before I give up and go do something else.
 

awesomesauce

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Dorothea Brande's Becoming a Writer has been immensely helpful to me. It's not about the technical aspects of storytelling, but more like the headology of writing. How to shut up your internal censor, how to put your butt in the chair, etc. All the barriers I had to get past before technique and craft even came into play.
 

M. Robert Gibson

I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that
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awesomesauce

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The professional writer should have two typewriters, a standard machine and a portable - preferably a noiseless portable.
My "noiseless portable" is a Lenovo tablet and a Bluetooth keyboard.
 

awesomesauce

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Telling Lies for Fun & Profit - Lawrence Block
I read Writing the Novel: From Plot to Print recently. It was very good, and I really liked how Block stressed that while he does X this way, other writers do it that way. The publishing advice bit was like a time-capsule since it's been in my queue for ages and I had the old edition which hadn't been updated since the seventies. It was fun to read how it used to be though.
 

Alan Aspie

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Jul 12, 2018
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Instead of "what is a good book about writing" we could also think "what is a good combination of books" or even "what is a good combination of information, books & knowledge"?

Screenwriting -books help you master plot & working. Author-books help you to find your writers voice, some video tutorials & lectures give you wider scene, books of business- & academic writing help you focus on compact writing about essential things...

Maybe Dale Carnegie or Scott Adams fill what Orwell, King, Snyder & Truby don't talk about? Maybe Daniel Goleman tells more about characters & relations than some book about c&r? Or not?

What are the best method books about how to write humour? Vodehouse, Guareshi, Pratchet & Herriot or some books about sit coms and writing?

What about starting with self reflection? What skills do I have? What I don't know? Is there something all my failures share? What? How could I patch & fix it?

I prefer reading until saturation point, reading all, reading deep, reading for fun...

What is the combination of skills behind hexaflexagon? Twisting paper? Painting by numbers? Thingking visually? What is the combination of skills you need? How do you know it? Or do you? Do you need a book to help you find what you don't know?

 

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