As I mentioned recently, I’m heading into the oh-so-long process of revising the second book of my fantasy series The Osteria Chronicles. Part of my revision ritual is to re-read some of the top books I’ve found for fiction writers to refresh my memory of certain techniques, help myself hone in on my weak areas, and to inspire new parts to enhance what was created in the first draft.
So, in this week’s Saturday Selection let’s take a look at those writing world tomes….
1. A Writer’s Guide to Fiction by Elizabeth Lyon – The subtitle says it all, “A concise, practical guide for novelists and short-story writers.” In less than 250 pages, this book covers all the basics with plenty of examples and tips. From concisely covering the elements of fiction (plot, characters, point of view) to information on revising, marketing and planning for your life as a super awesome novelist, this book really needs to be on any writer’s bookshelf.
2. Manuscript Makeover by Elizabeth Lyon – Again, the subtitle is perfect: Revision Techniques No Fiction Writer Can Afford to Ignore. At about 350 pages, this book is a bit more substantial but it goes over some of the major problems your manuscript may have and how to remedy them. I can’t think of any other book that helps me in my process of “fixing” the weak areas in my first drafts. There’s so much great information in Manuscript Makeover that I’m not even going to try to cover it all, just find a copy and commit it to memory!
3. Wired for Story by Liz Cron – The first time I read this, I immediately read it again taking copious notes on one piece of paper while filling another piece of paper with ideas the book inspired. Liz covers many of the same notions other writing books cover such as building emotional connections with the characters, writing only what matters to the story, etc., but relates it to what our brains expect when reading a story. Even though it’s based on neuroscience, it is in no way overly scientific or hard to read.
4. On Writing by Stephen King – I’ll admit I’m a huge Stephen King fan and may be a bit biased about this recommendation. The first part of the book is a mini-autobiography that tells about the influences and experiences that made him into a writer (some are very funny), plus a history of his writing career (try to control your envy monster). The second part is a mini-tutorial of what makes good writing, steps in the process of writing and even some tips on revision. It’s very short and something you can read over and over again (obviously).
5. Thanks, But This Isn’t For Us: A (Sort of) Compassionate Guide to Why Your Writing Is Being Rejected by Jessica Morrell – All of Jessica’s books are great, but if I were forced to pick, I’d say this one is tops for overall writing advice. She delivers great advice with plenty of sarcastic humor….just my style!