Lake Atitlan, Panajachel, Guatemala

“Reading and writing are acts of empathy and faith. Guard that trust carefully — in this rapidly changing business, it’s the only sure thing.” ~Erin Keane
"Never give up. And most importantly, be true to yourself. Write from your heart, in your own voice, and about what you believe in." ~ Louise Brown

"Write something to suit yourself and many people will like it; write something to suit everybody and scarcely anyone will care for it."
~Jesse Stuart

"A writer's job is to take one thing and make it stand for twenty." ~ Virginia Woolf

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Which writing books to buy?

My husband and I got a generous gift card for Christmas-- $50 to Amazon-- and after some small discussion, he now agrees that buying writing books for me would benefit both of us a great deal, and would indeed be the best use of this gift card.

Only I'm in a quandary. I can't decide!

And so, dear blogging writer friends, I turn to you for advice and suggestions. What books on writing have you found to be the most helpful and inspirational, and why?

Please share! Because this $50 Amazon gift card is just waiting to get spent . . . .

37 comments:

  1. Save the Cat by Blake Snyder is my favorite.

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  2. Hey thanks, Alex, I'll check that out. Never heard of it, so I'm excited to take a look.

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  3. I love BIRD BY BIRD, by Anne Lamott. There's a lot of writing wisdom in that book.

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    1. Linda, Writing wisdom sounds very appealing. My favorite writing books are those that have depth and meaning, that motivate and stimulate creativity. These are the ones that I go back to over and over, more than the "how to" books. Thanks for this suggestion, I'll go look at it right now!

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  4. I'm walkabout at the moment - and can't visualise my bookcase. Remind me when I get home - I know there are some I've fallen back on over and over - too far away to even remember much beyond the colour of the covers!

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    1. Jo, I'm amazed that you are even able to blog in the far reaches of your latest adventure.

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    2. I'm constantly amazed by everything that Jo does!

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  5. Save the Cat is not just informative, it's a funny read.

    My favorite book is less a writing book than a storytelling book(Like Save the Cat!): Writing for Emotional Impact, Karl Iglesias.

    It's not funny, and it's not a quick read either. It's like film-school: teaches you the different ways to tell a story and what the benefits of each approach are, and how each impacts the reader. I reread it regularly.

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    1. Amalie, Very cool! Another one I haven't heard of-- will go look it up. Thanks!

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  6. Third vote for Save The Cat. Also Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Browne & King. And an older, yet lovely book is If You Want To Write by Brenda Ueland.

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  7. A few of my favorites are Sin and Syntax, By Constance Hale, The Emotional Thesaurus by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi, and On Writing by Stephen King. Have fun spending :)

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  8. I second Bird by Bird, and first (:) Becoming a Writer by Dorothea Brande. The latter is copyright 1934, and never went out-of-print. I think that says something.

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  9. Another vote for Bird by Bird. Also, The Forest for the Trees by Betsy Lerner and Escaping Into the Open: The Art of Writing True by Elizabeth Berg are writing books I've enjoyed.

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  10. Hi Karen - sorry I cannot 'come up' with a modern book title because I tend to read older fiction.
    Yet I cannot help but think that it must be very difficult for anyone to advise an accomplished writer like yourself.

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    1. Eddie, You are sweetheart. I always enjoy your visits and comments to my blog. Hope you and Mrs. Bluelights are doing well.

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    2. Karen - how about reading a real 'oldie' like H Rider Haggard's "The People Of The Mist". Might be interesting to see how an older book compares.

      I used to love reading his writing.

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  11. I've heard that SAVE THE CAT is a good one. On my list of books to buy.

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  12. ...autobiographies written by those who've earned such praise to allow for them are words that I find encouraging.

    On Writing by King is a must ;)

    El

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  13. Yep, King's On Writing is good. I've learned a lot, here, though - I hadn't heard about Save the Cat. (Checks Amazon) - hmm, is it specifically for screenwriting though?

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  14. Elliot, Simon-- I have On Writing, the one by King and Sol Silverstein as well-- both are VERY good and inspirational-- As for Save the Cat, I wondered about the screenwriting and figured it meant how to tighten the plotting, the narrative flow? Studying screenwriting is always helpful for us wordy novelists.

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  15. The Arvon Book of Crime and Thriller Writing.
    :-)

    Take care
    x

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  16. Hi, karen,

    What a GREAT way to spend a gift card. I have heard of all of the above. I wish I can add something to them for you.

    My thoughts are to google. You could find AMAZING additional suggestions on line. AND most have reviews. It may take a bit of time, but you could find a treasure that we all forgot about.

    HAVE FUN SHOPPING!

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  17. Save the Cat is a good buy. I'd also take a look at Writing the Breakout Novel. You lucky writer you! $50 and all for books.

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  18. This is just a fabulous list, thanks for all your suggestions. Like Michael said, I am going to have FUN shopping! I've already checked out a lot of them, including the negative reviews since I can get an idea of what kind of book it is by negative as well as positive reviews.

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  19. I was going to say "Save the Cat" ... but it looks like folks already beat me to it--LOL! :D

    Yay for gift cards! <3

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  20. I've never heard of Save The Cat. I might even get it myself. I've enjoyed Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg but I think that's more of a therapeutic writing book - not that there's anything wrong with a bit of therapy. I often do dip into this book which is on my shelf beside me as I type this.

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  21. I keep meaning to try Save the Cat. I also like Bird by Bird, and plan to re-read it soon. Then there's The Writer's Book of Days which is a combination of writing prompts and writing advice that I enjoy picking up off and on throughout the year every year.

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    1. Tyrean, Going to check on The Writer's Book of Days right now....

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  22. Nicola Morgan's Write to be Published and Stephen King's On Writing. I found both of those books excellent. But what is this Save the Cat? My cat-loving soul is intrigued! Love that one book mentions cats and the other is 'Bird' by Bird. :)

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  23. Hi Karen .. someone mentioned "The Secret Miracle: The Novelist's Handbook" ... forgotten who - I'm sure I'll come across who it was ... and there's another book - but I need to remember again who it was ...

    I'll be back to remind you I hope ... love the sound of "Save the Cat" though ...

    It'll be interesting to hear what you choose ... cheers Hilary

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    1. Hi Karen .. Julia Hones has written this post - there might be some useful information here ..

      http://juliahoneswritinglife.blogspot.co.uk/2013/01/alternatives-to-duotrope.html

      This wasn't the book I was thinking of ...

      Cheers Hilary

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    2. Thanks, Hilary! I appreciate the link, will go there!

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  24. Hmmm, that is quite a pickle! I too got a $50 Amazon gift card for the holidays! I got a couple of books on my craft, and spent the rest on books I love to read for pleasure from some of my fave authors. I feel I learn just as much about writing from reading books for pleasure, as those about the craft itself. Cheers & happy shopping!

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  25. I'm sure you've made a decision by now. My problem is that I've bought many writing books but read only a couple and have barely even looked at the rest. Kind of like a lot of the help and how-to books that I own. I'll have to delve into them one day.

    Lee
    Wrote By Rote

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    1. Lee, Actually I haven't yet. Like you, I've bought writing books and barely glanced at them, others I read regularly, especially before I start a new draft. Like Hooked by Les Edgerton and anything by Jack Bickham. I haven't had time to research all the great suggestions everyone's given me in the comments. But I plan to, because I not only want to get some good ones, I want them to be ones I go back to again and again.

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  26. Hi Karen - I picked a couple from this list .. Save the Cat and Bird by Bird ... coming this week ... and I need to get your recent release .. time to read first!

    Cheers Hilary

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