Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Any writers in the house?

Before this year, I hadn't considered using writing books. I was pretty much under the impression, If you're a natural writer, everything should fall into place on its own, right?
But I'm starting to reevaluate that mindset. I think college has made me a wee bit rusty around the edges, so I'd like to know, from the prospective authors out there -

Do you use writers' manuals or writing guide books? Have you found them particularly helpful?
And are there any that you might recommend?

7 shout-outs!:

TrueOrFalse said...

Well, I'm signed up for the Writer's Digest newsletter and they give some pretty useful tips. I also just got The Nighttime Novelist. It's not groundbreaking but it's in scrapbook format (if you like that kind of thing) and is useful for first-time novelists especially.
I used to think that writing would just come naturally but recently I've been getting accustomed to the idea that I may need some help, or some prods along the way. Good luck with your writing endeavors!

Lale said...

I really enjoyed 'Bird by Bird' by Anne Lamott :)

Emi said...

I have a handful of 'How to Write' books sitting on my shelf, but there are really only three that I've found particularly helpful. I'm with Lale: Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott is an excellent book for writers who find themselves worrying about their actual writing. 'On Writing' by Stephen King is another good one that gives practical advice and realistic expectations to aspiring writers. If you're into writing fantasy fiction, 'The Writer's Journey' by Christopher Vogler will help you to identify patterns in fiction and work around them or use them to your advantage.

Though I've found that these books have helped me over the last few years, they've only helped me to become aware of my writing and to inspire me to keep writing when I know I'm writing crap (nothing can really teach you how to write well, and even when they try to teach you the rules, some can easily be broken). But writing the crap is important because it means you're practicing and getting closer to writing that one scene that pulls the whole story together, or creating that one character that tugs at your heartstrings. From one struggling writer to another: practice, practice, practice is the key. Oh, and definitely seek critiques. Even though they're painful at first, it's important to find an opinion of your work that's not your own. It gets you out of your own head, and everybody needs a break from themselves every once in a while. ;P

Whoa, this comment ended up being much longer than I had anticipated. Sorry! ^^; I hope some of this stuff helps, though! :)

Anne said...

I used to think you had to just have a talent for writing too, but I had a friend that convinced me to try (she wanted to write a letter game which takes two people). That really helped my confidence and gave me incentive to sign up for an actual class in creative writing. Three novels later, I can still say I'm not perfect, and I'm not anywhere near publishing standards, but I have stuff to work with, and I know a whole lot more than what I started with.

I haven't really used any guide books, though I do like Strunk and White for general grammer/style things. You've already got the perfect base, because you read a lot. I learn the most about writing from the things I read. Besides that I would suggest just start writing (if you need incentive, NaNoWriMo is awesome). Find a friend you trust to read your stuff and give constructive criticism, but also give you a confidence booster when you need it. You'll learn things as you go.

Kristin Rae said...

I've been hearing a lot about "Save the Cat" by Blake Snyder. It's a screenwriting book, but apparently it's got so much good info in it no matter what kind of writing you do. I haven't gotten it yet, but I'm definitely looking into it.

I have some writing prompt books, and one about character sketches--but honestly I forget about them. :)

Jordyn said...

There are a lot of writing books that aren't much help to me, often because I've already learned what's in them, but a few are really really great no matter what.

Donald Maass' WRITING THE BREAKOUT NOVEL and its workbook. Both fabulous. I once talked to an author who said that it wasn't until after going through the BREAKOUT NOVEL that her novels became publishable.

THE WRITER'S BOOK OF WISDOM: 101 RULES FOR MASTERING YOUR CRAFT is also one that I've kept around forever.

And and and there's another one I really love but I'm at school and can't remember the name of it for the life of me. I'll let you know when I remember/find it.

And, of course, it depends on what sort of writing you're doing. These are books about NOVEL writing but there are other great ones for short story writing, nonfiction, creative nonfiction, etc. And it depends if you want books on the craft & technical aspects (these are craft books that I've listed) or more for ideas/writing prompts, which are another beast altogether.

Natalie said...

Ugh. I'm totally with you on this. I actually wrote a lot more when I was in high school. Now that I'm working my way through the tail end of my B.A....I just haven't really found the inspiration. I know I can write, but I think the big thing is me getting an idea that I won't give up on in three weeks. I tend to get a great beginning and end, but things always fall through in the middle. If I would just actually take some time every week to devote to writing, maybe I could get back in the swing of things. I'd need quite a bit of motivation though...lol

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