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16.07.2011 15:03    Comments: 0    Categories: Writing Books  Fiction Writing      Tags: books  fiction writing  

We've found these writing resources to be helpful and inspiring. Do you have a tricky grammar question? Do you like to read about the trials and tribulations of other writers (so that your own attic full of rejection slips don't seem so painful)? Do you need a writing coach/cheerleader to rev you up and send you back to the page newly energized, dedicated, and creative? Then check out some of these resources. Give them as a gift to yourself or to a writer friend. These are books you will go back to again and again.

 

How to Grow a Novel: The Most Common Mistakes Writers Make and How to Overcome Them, Sol Stein. Veteran writer and editor Sol Stein shows you how to examine your writing for effect. If you learn one thing from this book, it is how to focus on the reader - the person buying your book, the agent, or the editor. Although the title is weak and some chapters are loosely written, this book does an excellent job of bringing writers out of their tunnel vision and helping them to see their writing as others do. This guide will make you look at your novel-in-progress with new eyes. It discusses the value of outlining scenes and being aware of what each scene is doing to the reader's emotions (best-selling books don't just express emotion; they create it). It offers tips for drawing the reader in with good beginnings, for giving your characters life, for developing good dialogue, and for what to do when you get stuck. It also takes you behind the scenes of the publishing business. (Hasn't every writer wondered how editors and agents think?) Stein's book is chocked full of writing solutions. Make sure you find a place for it in your library

 

The Elements of Style, William Strunk Jr. and E.B. White. This is the granddaddy of writing books. Originally written in 1959, this slim volume began as a self-published work by Cornell English professor William Strunk. It was known as "the little book" on campus. After Strunk died, one of his students, New Yorker essayist E.B. White, was commissioned to revise -- and revive -- the book. This resource has "rich deposits of gold" for the writer willing to mine them. Its only drawback is that it lacks an index for easy-to-find references, but White's writing style is so enjoyable, you won't mind getting "lost" a few times.

 

If You Want to Write, Brenda Ueland. This 1938 classic is powerful inspirational stuff. Spunky Ueland (she set an international swimming record for over 80-year-olds and was knighted by the king of Norway) maintains "everybody is talented, original and has something to say" -- so if you want to write, then do it. The creative impulse beats inside us like the hammer of a heart, and this book helps you follow that beat.

 

Writing Down the Bones, Natalie Goldberg. This could be subtitled "Zen and the Writing Chick." Writing teacher Goldberg mixes high-energy sparks of writing wisdom with blissful moments of personal revelation. These short essays are packed with inspiration and writing exercises. If you have ever stared at a blank page with fear, this is a must read.

 

Wild Mind: Living the Writer's Life, Natalie Goldberg. Written in 1990, this is the sequel to Writing Down the Bones (1986). Writing guru Goldberg offers more exercises to jumpstart your writing and creativity.

 

The Artist's Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity, Julia Cameron. Journalist, screenwriter, and teacher Cameron started a writing tidal wave with writers and non-writers alike with this 1992 book/12-week program. Through writing daily "morning pages" and weekly exercises, you learn how to tap your creative spirit (or shake it awake from a Rip Van Winkle slumber). This book has inspired discussion groups, Web sites, and workshops -- because it works.

 

The Vein of Gold: A Journey to Your Creative Heart, Julia Cameron. This is the 1996 companion to the best-selling Artist's Way. It takes you closer to your artistic center and personal revelation. It has more than 100 "tasks" that lead to growth, creativity, renewal, and healing.

 

The Right to Write: An Invitation and Initiation into the Writing Life, Julia Cameron. In this 1998 work, Cameron narrows her focus to those who are jumping into the writing life for the first time or already living it. She offers tools for making writing fun and profound.

 

Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life, Anne Lamott. The title of this 1994 bestseller comes from a story of Lamott's then 10-year-old brother who was overwhelmed by writing a report on birds and their father's advice to "just take it bird by bird." And that's the way you should take this witty guide through the writer's world. Open the book to any point and begin reading -- just an essay or two -- and then take that you-can-do-it spirit to the paper where you create word by word.

 

For Writers Only, Sophy Burnham. In this 1994 favorite, you will find pearls from great writers: the motto Zola kept in his workroom ("No day without lines."), Stendhal's personal writing rule ("I see but one rule: to be clear."), and many more. Burnham offers up an inspiring dish. Who knows: what worked for the likes of Hemingway and Toni Morrison might work for you, too.

 

The Writing Life, Annie Dillard. The Boston Globe called this slender 1989 volume "a kind of spiritual Strunk & White." In her quiet, imagery-laden style, Dillard explores the landscape of writing and being a writer. This is a friend who sits up with you in the quiet of the night, pats your arm, and says, "It will be all right, dear, in the end. You will see."

 

What If?: Writing Exercises for Fiction Writers, Anne Bernays and Pamela Painter. There are more than 75 writing exercises in this 1990 handbook for both beginning and experienced writers. These exercises are designed to develop and refine two basic skills: writing like a writer and thinking like a writer. This is a writer's block buster.

 

Writing Without the Muse: 50 Beginning Exercises for the Creative Writer, Beth Baruch Joselow. "You want to write, but you don't know where to begin." Does this sound familiar? Another block buster, this 1996 practical writing guide gets to the straight stuff fast. The exercises are light-hearted and specific.

 

The Art of Fiction: Notes on Craft for Young Writers, John Gardner. Gardner admits that while the ability to write well is a gift, "writing ability is mainly a product of good teaching supported by a deep-down love of writing." This 1983 guide dissects the "craft" of writing, takes it apart and puts it back together again -- leaving the reader with the feeling that somewhere a light bulb has clicked on.

 

On Becoming a Novelist, John Gardner. Gardner was known as a writer who brought fiction to life and a teacher who brought writing to life. In this 1983 book, he tells it like it is, answering the questions of the dedicated writing student. (Both The Art of Fiction and On Becoming a Novelist were published after Gardner's death in 1982.)

 

Writing the Novel: From Plot to Print, Lawrence Block. Long-time Writer's Digest contributor and mystery writer Block offers a step-by-step guide to novel writing in this 1979 work.

 

Fiction Writer's Handbook, Hallie and Whit Burnett. The coeditors of Story Magazine published the first work of many noted writers -- Norman Mailer, J.D. Salinger, Truman Capote, Joseph Heller, William Saroyan, Tennessee Williams, and Carson McCullers. In this 1975 guide, they pass on practical advice on every aspect of writing novels and short stories.

 

Writing in General and the Short Story in Particular, Rust Hills. Long-time fiction editor of Esquire, Hills has written a nuts-and-bolts guide for making the pieces of writing fit together as neatly as a puzzle. This valuable resource debuted in 1977 but continues to offer timely tips.

 

Turning Life into Fiction, Robin Hemley. Hemley maintains fiction is everywhere: in overheard conversations, in offbeat relatives, on the news, in childhood memories. This 1994 work proves life is rich with ideas, situations, and characters waiting to be turned into good stories. Hemley shows you how to observe the details, filter them, reshape them, and turn them into living, breathing fiction.

 

Beyond Style: Mastering the Finer Points of Writing, Gary Provost. In this 1988 resource, Writer's Digest contributor Provost tackles the issues of writing -- such as form, tone, viewpoint, pacing, theme -- with a light and clever hand.

 

The Art and Craft of Novel Writing, Oakley Hall. Vivid fiction must show, not just tell, according to Hall. And he does just that in this 1989 textbook on writing. Hall shows what works and why -- often illustrated with examples from well-known masters.

Screenplay: The Foundations of Screenwriting, Syd Field. This step-by-step guide from concept to finished script was written in 1979. It is helpful not only to aspiring screenwriters, but to fiction writers as well. Many of Field's tips are quite applicable to good fiction.

 

Zen and the Art of Screenwriting: Insights and Interviews, William Froug. Froug gives us a glimpse from the screenwriting trenches in this 1996 tapestry that weaves insightful essays with in-depth interviews with top screenwriters.

 

Structuring Your Novel: From Basic Idea to Finished Manuscript, Robert C. Meredith & John D. Fitzgerald. Written in 1972, this book examines the challenges of writing a novel. It puts some of the greatest novels under the microscope -- Tom Jones, The Spy Who Came in From the Cold, Madame Bovary, To Kill a Mockingbird, and The Grapes of Wrath -- to show how they met these challenges.

 

Writer's Block: A New Approach to Creativity, Victoria Nelson. Everyone gets it -- writer's block -- and now Nelson offers a cure for it. Nelson maintains that the inability to write is your creative mind's healthy response to an inner imbalance. She shows how to work through the block and step up to new levels of creativity.

 
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