Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Honing Your Craft: Recommended Reading

I've mentioned it before and I'll say it again, no matter what genre you write, no matter your skill level, or natural talent for words, the smart writer is always looking for ways to hone their craft. Whether you attend workshops or read books on writing, all can benefit.

I'd like to take a moment to share a few of the books I recommend to any fiction writer, aspiring or published.

Writing The Novel by Lawrence Block

Originally published in 1985 by a master of the hard-boiled detective story, Writing The Novel is now available as a Nook book and is worth the price of admission. I cut my teeth on this book back when and still enjoy thumbing through my highlighted and dog-eared copy now and again.

There are no easy formulas or trick ponies in Mr. Block's book, only sound advice based on the over 100 books he's written and published.

GMC: Motivation & Conflict by Debra Dixon

Written in 1996, Ms. Dixon's book delineates the need for plot structure in fiction and breaks it down into three of the main components. This book is great for any fiction writer, and is continually a recommended read within the romance industry.

If you plan to get your own copy, I suggest buying the book from Gryphon Books directly since it's cheaper than buying it anywhere else.

The Screenwriter's Workbook and
The Screenwriter's Problem Solver by Syd Field

While these two books are not the only great books Mr. Field's written, they are the two I found most helpful. Just because your aim is writing a novel, don't dismiss the value of learning from other writing sources. Screenwriters are some of the most undervalued and incredibly talented authors out there, and they have some wonderful lessons to share that you can apply to your own writing.

Speaking of lessons from screenwriters, two of my favorite collections of writerly wisdom are by the late Blake Snyder, whose books are filled with warmth, humor, and his passion for sharing and explaining something he called the "Beat Sheet".

Save The Cat and Save the Cat Strikes Back by Blake Synder

Another book in the series, Save The Cat Goes To The Movies, breaks down some of the most popular movies of the past few decades and shows where each falls within Blake's categories and on the Beat Sheet.

I hope you'll check out these and other books on the craft of writing and gain the pearls of wisdom that will help you defeat the high brick wall. Happy reading!


Unknown said...

I have the Dixon book and it is wonderful. Now I have got to check out these others. :)

Cassandra said...

Since screenwriters are forced by the very nature of their medium to write concise, making every word count, and knowing how and why each scene works to further their plot, they can teach novelists a better way of laying down the bones.