Books for Writers

Recommended Books :D

Daniel says, “Nothing but the best! These were worth my time AND my money!”

  • Great Writers on the Art of Fiction by James Daley
    This is an excellent little book! In truth, James Daley is more editor than author. He has unearthed and put together a series of articles, letters, and essays on writing from some of the greatest writers of the past two centuries. From the very first entry it changed my views on writing. Who knew Poe crafted his famous poem, The Raven, meticulously and methodically step-by-step? Not me, but it came across like a revelation! Truth be told, there is certainly some trash in this book too, but the gems are just so good it’s worth slogging through them. I highly recommend it!
  • Screenwriters on Screenwriting by Joel Engel
    Another excellent compilation! Although it’s geared more toward screenwriting movies than novels, it’s still a good read. Hearing directly from the writers of popular films is definitely a step in the right direction for anyone wanting to follow in their footsteps. In the interview with the writer of Ghost, I was particularly intrigued to learn that “the audience hated [Carl] for trying to seduce Molly more than for killing Sam.” (page 6) Are Americans that desensitized to murder? This is not the sort of thing that a writer can generally predict, but knowing what happened in this instance should definitely inform our writing. Again, an excellent insight into the writing craft.
  • The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Creative Writing (2nd Edition) by Laurie E. Rozakis
    This should be the textbook for writing classes (and probably is in quite a few of them)! Absolutely no stone is left unturned regarding the craft of writing – and that includes writing fiction, poetry, screenplays, and more! I still go back and review certain concepts from time to time. My only tiny complaint is that the author appears to be either anti-Christian or simply apathetic to people of faith. Among other instances, there’s an interesting quote somewhere that comes straight from King Solomon out of the pages of the bible. Does the author attribute it to him? No! Yet she meticulously attributes every other quote to its author. It certainly seems like some kind of double standard to me. That said, it’s still an excellent book. I highly recommend it.

Nothing Special :|

Daniel says, “There are some good things here, but other have done it better. Nothing is particularly world-changing or memorable.”

  • 20 Master Plots: And How to Build Them by Ronald Tobias
    This is an interesting read – but essentially a recipe book. The author encourages adaptation, but there are only so many ways to write another Hamlet. It’s also more of a book on plot theory, if there is such a thing. How I find it most useful is as a book of theme ideas since the author has taken great pains to identify and expound on only 20 specific plots. The 20 themes (plots) covered here really do speak to very basic human emotions, interests, and needs.
  • How To Read A Person Like A Book by Gerard Nierenberg and Henry H. Calero
    This little book is dated, but still useful in drawing the attention of the writer to the subtle, unspoken world of body language. Written from the perspective of business, it has practical application for the budding writer when trying to write believable, multi-dimensional characters. An updated version of this book would probably make my recommended list. In its current form, I can’t do that yet.
  • The Writer’s Guide to Character Traits by Linda Edelstein
    If you’re writing a psychological thriller about a serial killer or really need to get into the psychological head of a character, then this book will be useful to you. Written by a psychologist, it’s kind of like a brute force personality profiler or character worksheet. You look up the character trait and you’re presented with other traits that are commonly found with it. There’s a lot of information here, but there are also a lot of missing links. Also, most of the interesting content has been done before – and to death.

Books to Avoid :P

Daniel says, “Rubbish, dung, and dregs. Don’t waste your time or your money. Pass and forget. (Obi Wan voice) ‘These aren’t the books you’re looking for.'”

  • 1,818 Ways to Write Better & Get Published by Scott Edelstein
    Great – if you like a book of lists. (hiss) … OK, in all honesty, there is good information inside, but you can probably find all of it freely available on the Internet. This book might be worth your time depending on what your particular situation involves, but it’s definitely not worth the money in my opinion. You’ll get advice that’s just as good and more timely by reading, subscribing to writing journals, and such.

Other Recommendations

  • If you haven’t noticed yet, I trust Randy Ingermanson. He maintains his own list of Books on Writing on his web site. I haven’t read them all yet, but I trust his judgment, plus he’s published. What more do you need to trust him?
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