Thursday, July 24, 2014

Books About Writing Books

by Alan

What's your favorite writing craft book of all time?

Over the years, I’ve read a number of books devoted to the craft of writing. As you might imagine, many have been helpful (to me), while others haven’t, but even in those less worthwhile volumes, I think I’ve always been able to find at least a nugget or two of valuable writing wisdom.

As with most things in life, you need to be careful about what advice to follow (but it doesn’t hurt to listen and read widely).

On Monday, Meredith mentioned two of my favorite books:

On Writing, by Stephen King

On Writing 

And Bird by Bird, by Ann Lamott (although I would classify this as being more of an inspirational writing book than a craft book).

bird by bird

Let me add a few (random) others:

For those wanting to pen a best-seller:

How to Write Best Selling Fiction, by Dean Koontz

Koontz writing book

A long (long) time ago, back before I even really wanted to be a writer, I picked up a book by Dean Koontz (one of my favorite authors at the time), mapping out how to become a best-seller. For some reason, it’s out of print now, but you can pick up a used copy on Amazon for a mere $68.


For those wanting to write a “breakout” novel:

Writing the Breakout Novel, by Donald Maass

breakout novel

This book also has an accompanying workbook (which I haven’t used).


For those who have trouble differentiating writing in summary versus writing in scenes:

Scene & Structure, by Jack Bickham

Scene and Structure

When I first started writing fiction, I didn’t know what I was doing. This book helped (a lot!).




Want to see three Criminal Minds, in person, reading their work, AT A BAR?

D.C. area folks will have that chance, this Sunday night at the inaugural D.C. Noir, 8 p.m. at The Wonderland Ballroom. Meredith, Art, and I, along with seven other great writers (Nik Korpon, Steve Weddle, Ed Aymar, Tom Kaufman, Don Lafferty, Tara Laskowski, and Michael R. Underwood), will take turns reading and schmoozing. Come on by—a good time will be had by all.


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Meredith Cole said...

Great suggestions. I enjoyed reading the Maas book as well.

Looking forward to seeing you and Art on Sunday, Alan!

Catriona McPherson said...

This did make me laugh. Also - I'm beginning to feel like the only person in this caper who hasn't read Bird by Bird. But then it sometimes takes me a while to catch on - e.g. I'm currently reading the debut by a great chap called William Kent Krueger - a name to watch!

Susan C Shea said...

Question (yes, I know, I could buy the book to find out): What is a "break out" book? Are we talking about big sales, genre-bending, commercial vs. genre? A friend is being urged to write such a book and I don't think she's sure what her agent means either!

Alan Orloff said...

Meredith - Yes, looking forward to seeing you on Sunday, too! I've ironed my black clothes.

Catriona - Glad to make you laugh, but I thought this was one of my least funny blog posts ever. I'll have to try that Krueger guy myself.

Susan - Big sales, I think. Either that, or something so bad it makes the reader break out in hives.

Susan C Shea said...

Well, dang, we'd all write breakout books if we could. Can't imagine what her agent meant by way of helpful advice!

RJ Harlick said...

Catriona, you aren't alone. I haven't read the Bird By Bird book either. In fact I'm probably really marginalizing myself when I say that I'd never heard of it. But the last book, the one with the blue cover on Scene and Structure was one of the books I couldn't remember the title or author. Like Alan, I found it very valuable.

Catriona McPherson said...

It was the "if a then b" bit - if you want to write a bestseller read "How to write a bestseller". It just made me laugh again.