Great Books For Writers

Posted: January 14, 2014 in Uncategorized
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Great Books for Writers

             Over the course of almost twenty-four years of reading, researching, and practicing writing, I have read no less than fifteen books on writing and lost count of the number of magazine articles and the Internet. I have at least ten more books sitting on the shelves of my bookcase, which I might never open.

Like many writers I suppose, we read and research tips and strategies from other writers, hoping to find the article or book magically transforming us into a best-selling author.

After a while, the information starts running together and certain themes and pieces of advice recur:

  • Show, don’t tell
  • Make your characters interesting and believable
  • Write powerful and realistic dialogue
  • Use the five senses
  • Don’t use unnecessary words.

Sound familiar?

We might try to apply these suggestions and approaches and if we are fortunate we’ll find something to improve our writing.

A few months ago I decided to organize my writing space and my bookcase was at the top of the list. I reviewed my library and discarded more than a few, some I never read. I realized I subconsciously used the books as an excuse not to write while trying to convince myself I needed to read the contents to hopefully find the gold nugget – the piece of advice turning my book project into a best-seller overnight.

Of the books I read and reviewed, two made the most impact and will stay on my book shelf for future reference.

From my perspective, any book or article providing examples to support the narrative explanation earns high marks, and The Fiction Writer’s Silent Partner by Martin Roth excels in this category.

Martin Roth does a masterful job to explain the three main aspects of story – Character, Place (Setting), and Event (Plot), but goes further. His attention to detail provides the writer with templates for character profiling, the parts of the plot including but not limited to subplots, crises, climaxes, and suspense with an ample number of examples to spark creativity.

The Fiction Writer’s Silent Partner covers crime scenes and multiple genres, including the uniqueness of the particular genre. For instance, in his section on The Old West, Roth gives a list of how people traveled, Old West lingo, typical places, names, and characters, helping the writer stay focused and add realism to the story.

Roth’s book makes it almost impossible to motivate oneself to write.

My second recommendation is The Fiction Writer’s Workshop by Josip Novakovich.

Novakovich covers character, plot, and setting in much detail and provides writing samples to support his explanations.

To spark creativity, Novakovich includes very detailed exercises after each chapter.

In addition to character, plot, and setting, The Fiction Writer’s Workshop includes a chapter on point of view, dialogue and scene, how to write effective beginnings and endings, and revision.

The Fiction Writer’s Silent Partner and The Fiction Writer’s Workshop are worthwhile investments for any writer’s tool kit.

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