Saturday, March 17, 2012

Favorite writing books

Today I thought I’d go back to basics-writing craft books.

I’m the type of person who loves information, if I am interested in something I start hoarding info like a dragon coverts gold. So, when I started writing I started hording writing books ;).

Now some have been passed on, given away, or donated. But others still linger around, looked at from time to time, just giving comfort by being there. (I am an admitted bookaholic, being surrounded by them gives me comfort ;)) .

Over the years there have been a few “heavy hitters” and today I’ll bring up three of them :).

The big Kahuna: Techniques of a Selling Writer- Dwight Swain. Ok, first off, this book has nothing to do with selling- but if you follow the techniques you will become more sellable. I call this one the big kahuna based on its size and age. This hefty boy has been around since the 60’s and when you read it you can see where sooooooooooo many other writing books got their stuff from. Honestly, there is so much information here, I can't even sum it up. I can promise you that no matter where you are in your writing- you WILL learn something from this book.

The new twist: Method Writing by Jack Grapes. I am just diving into this book after meeting Jack at the SDSU writer’s conference. Jack is also an actor, and his book is based (sort of) on the method acting school of thought…but for writers. This book (and his workshops) really takes a different approach in terms of writing craft- but it works. His first premise is that all writers need to accept that their story is boring. He even tells people to put that on their computer “MY story is boring.” His approach is different than any other writing book I’ve read, and that’s what makes it work. It’s too easy for us as writers to see our craft only one way, jack’s book goes beyond that and pushes our writing- and our thinking about writing- into new and different areas.

The idea generator: The Writer's Complete Fantasy Reference- If you’re working on a fantasy or fantasy romance book- this is a great place to start. Not a craft book really, but a great place to find tidbits of assorted fantasy worlds. Because these tidbits are often small, I would suggest supplementing with a good Google search, but this is great to spark ideas.

Those are just three-I have plenty more ;).

What are some of your favorites? If you could only recommend one book to a new writer- what would you suggest? To a more experienced writer?

Thanks for dropping by!
Marie Andreas


  1. Thanks for sharing your favs, Marie! I'll have to check them out.

  2. Thanks for coming by Dawn- do you have any favorites? Any favorite writing craft websites? have a great day!

  3. I will have to look for these books, they are not among my collection of writing books which I thought was extensive. Duh, not.

    My favorite writing book is "The Writer's little Helper" by James V. Smith, Jr. It is a tiny book, but it has what I consider a powerful tool. A way to gauge the pacing of your book. It basically uses a formula which incorporates passive sentences, reading ease and the grade level required by your reader to determine how active your voice is and how quickly a reader can get through and understand what you've written. While you think your chapters may be full of action and racing along, the tool tells the truth. You want to keep the reader's attention and you want him to keep reading. If the story is compelling (One of the categories) then she wants to read more. If the story downshifts to too slow a pace, the reader's attention flags. I run this tool on every chapter to see if I've met my goal of being thrilling for the most part and breakneck in scenes full of action that I want to zip along.


  4. Thanks for coming by and commenting Sharon :).

    I'd never heard of Smith's book, but I'll be tracking that done right away. It sounds VERY helpful!

    Thanks again!


  5. My favorite is The Complete Writer's Guide to Heroes and Heroines by Caro Lafever,Sue Viders, and Tami D. Cowden. It's about the archetypes of both heroes and heroines. It really helped me focus on building a variety of character types when I'm setting up a book or a series. It's made a huge difference for me.

    The other isn't really on craft, but I couldn't write without it: Rodale's Synonym Finder. I use it not only to vary my word usage, but also when I'm looking for words for titles or for a name to call the groups I write about--it's where I found the words Paladins and Talions for my series.

  6. OOO! Forgot about that one Alexis! We had Tami at a chapter meeting last year- she also has a book on Villians that you might like.

    I agree on the usefulness of a good synonym finder- and their also fun ;).

    Thanks for coming by and commenting Alexis!

    1. I have the one on villains, too. I think they are both great.

  7. They are, I really like both.

    ....and clearly I need to slow down when I respond..."their" instead of "they're" sigh....hangs head in shame. Fingers typing before brain engaged ;)

  8. Okay you guys,I'm going to be spending a fortune at Amazon getting all these titles. They all sound like something I could use.


  9. LOL! I hear ya Sharon- it's hard not to buy them, huh? Glad to see you're another bookaholic, we can't stop at just one...or one dozen ;)

  10. As a newbie writer, thank you for these titles to start my collection. I'm especially interested in the guide of heroes and heroines. After the RWASD library panels and HelenKay Dimon's POV workshop, I need to learn about those archetypes. Right now, I'm just writing like a pantser and seeing where my stories take me--no craft to it.

    Thank you Marie for this post!


  11. Thanks for coming by Rachael! You're at a great time in a writer's life- soaking in all the new stuff! I think all of the books listed- both mine and others- are on Amazon.

    Wasn't HelenKay's workshop great? SHE needs to do a book on it!

    Thanks again for coming by and commenting!

  12. I'm not a big writing craft book person, but I do love and refer to Stephen King's "On Writing". He has great and simple exmaples of using all your senses and using them to heighten tension for the reader...

    Good stuff!

    Lisa :)

  13. Thanks for coming by Lisa :). That is a good one too!

    Why do I think some folks are out hitting Amazon right now? ;)