Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Books about Writing

I have an embarrassing amount of books on the craft of writing. Some of their pages have never seen the light of day. Or my desk lamp.

I can say the same thing about my cookbooks, but that's another story.

I've only read two books about writing cover to cover. bird by bird by Anne Lamott is a delightful, easy read. It's not so much on the craft of writing, but the life of a writer. One of my favorite novelists, Lamott continued to entertain me with bird. And she gave me permission to write an awful first draft. I'll always love her for that.

The other one I read cover to cover is Eats, Shoots & Leaves by Lynne Truss. This woman had the courage to write an entire book about what to many is the dry topic of punctuation. A topic, by the way, that in writerly circles is not quite so dry, and has brought more than one set of writers and their editors to blows. Truss brought humor to the table and kept my wandering brain on task.

I've had skips and starts (and stops) with Making Shapely Fiction by Jerome Stern (my very first writing book and recommended to me by Lisa Samson who writes so much like Anne Lamott it's unbelievable), Stein on Writing by Sol Stein (as I remember one interesting thing in this book, I remember a second, and a third), Plot and Structure by James Scott Bell, and don't let me forget Walter Mosley's This Year You Write Your Novel.

Right now, I'm slowly working my way through Writing the Breakout Novel by Donald Maass (I recommend you get the workbook as well) and Goal, Motivation and Conflict by Debra Dixon.

The intriguing thing with all of these books is that they're like reading the Bible. Different things pop out at me at different times. Something that had been vague and nebulous six months ago becomes solid and an aha! in a nanosecond.

I subscribe to The Writer magazine. The cool thing with this little fellow is that reading the bits and pieces I'm interested in within its covers creates such an itch in me I have to get back to bichoking. That alone is worth the subscription price.

I hope I've touched on one or two of your favorites, and maybe helped you make a decision on another one. What's important to remember is that these are only tools. They won't write a novel on their own. I know. Believe me, I know.

Still reading Deadly Beautiful.

It's all better with friends.


  1. I love your blog. With your permission, I"ll add it to my list of favorite blogs for writers.


  2. Not only do you have my permission, but you have my undying gratitude.

    Wow. My week is complete. Maybe my month.