Sunday, August 2, 2009

Confessions of a Craft Book Junkie

Years ago, while waiting for my next class to start as a sophomore at Xavier University, I took a seat in the student lounge, flipped to a clean page in my notebook, and started my first novel. Back then, the only thing I knew is that I had a story and I wanted to tell it.

That story was great; I still love it. The writing, however, left much to be desired. I believe the book had 17 points of view, including inanimate objects--there was a desk that thought “ouch” when the police detective slammed a folder on it. But, hey, what did I know about points of view?

Then one day, while browsing the shelves of my local library, I ran across the writing reference section and picked up Sol Stein’s Stein on Writing.

And the addiction began.

It’s been 13 years since I started that first novel, and although I’m pretty happy with my writing system, I am always, always, always looking for ways to improve my craft. That's why I have an entire shelf devoted to books on the writing craft, and I am always adding to my library.

Here’s just a small sample of some of my favorite craft books:

Sol Stein’s Stein on Writing:

Debra Dixon’s Goal, Motivation & Conflict:

Renni Browne and Dave King’s Self-Editing for the Fiction Writer:

Writer's Guide to Character Traits by Linda N. Edelstein, Ph.D.:

A new addition is Donald Maass’s Writing the Breakout Novel Workbook:

The most helpful craft program I’ve used is Carolyn Greene’s Plot Doctor. I've used element's of Carolyn's program for years. It's the first thing I turn to when I start a new story.

Of course, as a confessed craft book junkie, I would love suggestions. All you writers out there, let me know what are some of your favorite writing reference guides. Whether it's craft, surviving the writing life, whatever. I'm interested.


Liane Spicer said...

Aw heck, my very next post, already written, is "What I learned from books on writing". You stole my thunder, Farrah! :)

Actually, the ones I've read thus far have less to do with craft and more to do with attitude, so there's no overlap. I have an Amazon wish list with a couple dozen more, and the only one of yours that's on there is Stein on Writing, so you've given me a few more to investigate. Thanks!

Maria Zannini said...

I like HOOKED by Les Edgerton. It's one of the few craft books that kept me interested from cover to cover.

Phyllis Bourne said...

Self-editing for Fiction Writer's is fantastic, isn't it? My copy is beat-up from all the re-reading.

Beverly said...

While I am not a writer, I might look up a couple of the books listed to help enhance my reading experience.

i believe the more I understand about writing and specific genres helps my appreciation of the books I read.

Farrah Rochon said...

I hope I didn't completely mess this post up, but it looked really funky in my browser so I added some spaces. Doesn't look so bad now.

Liane, I think you've got enough thunder, no matter what I post. And I would love to see what books have helped you. I'm always looking for more books on writing. Can't wait for your post!

Phyllis, I need to get a new copy of Browne & King. The chapters on Show vs. Tell and Beats are practically in tatters.

Maria, I have Les Edgerton's Hooked on my shelf. One of my critique group members bought it for me for Christmas. :) I agree, it's a great one. I also have Finding Your Voice, but haven't read it yet.

Beverly, come back an let us know if reading craft books enhances the reading experience or ruins it. :)

KeVin K. said...

Can't go wrong with Gerald Weinberg's Fieldstone Method. When I teach writing, this will be the text I use.