Thursday, October 7, 2010

Favorites: Books on Writing

Something fun and short for today's post. Favorite books on writing.

For me there is one book that is my absolute favorite; Bird by Bird, some instructions on writing and life by Anne Lamott. In addition to touching on topics like plot and characterization she also speaks to the writing frame of mind in various ways. There is something about this book that resonates with me, plus her humor is enjoyable. I like to re-read various chapters as a pick me up when I'm having a tough time with writing. Actually I can't find my copy at the moment, which is distressing enough that I may by another one soon.

My favorite part of that book is the chapter on "Shitty First Drafts". I really agree with her how the first draft is there to get the story down, and the next drafts fine tune it. And while there are nice bits of humor peppered throughout the book I think this chapter is the funniest.

Now for something more text book like, I find Writing Fiction A guide to narrative craft by Janet Burroway useful. I actually own this book because it was the text for my fiction writing class in college. When I was finished with the course I decided not to sell it back. As opposed to reading this through like I do Lamott's book this I mostly use for reference. Whichever area I need a bit of help in I read through the relevant chapter(s) to find the helpful information I need. Right now the chapter on revision has quite a few note cards inserted.

What I also like about Burroway's book is the selection of example pieces of fiction. There are follow up questions after the stories, which while probably aimed more at a class can still be helpful to answer on one's own.

So what are your favorite books on writing? What makes them special/useful? I know there are plenty of other great books out there, some I'm thinking of reading at some point to.


KarenG said...

I like the ones that make me want to go write, not necessarily how to books but about the mindset, and how other people do it. I read a biography of Anne Morrow Lindbergh, how she always struggled to find time to write with her children and she had maids and housekeepers! Anyway I found it inspirational.

Christine said...

I enjoy reading books about writing but am alert to the danger of spending time reading instead of getting on with the writing.

A favourite of mine is Stephen King's book 'On Writing'. An amusing take on the subject is provided by Jane Wenham-Jones in her book 'Wannabe a Writer?'. I also have 'How to Write a Damn Good Novel II' by James N. Frey which is more about technique.

Happy writing and blogging!

NiaRaie said...

Make a Scene by Jordan Rosenfeld is a great book for helping to write( or edit) scene by scene.