So, the theme this month here at Novel Spaces is “Our Favorite Writing Books.” We’re already halfway into the month and a lot of popular choices have already been mentioned, which means I can reiterate at least some of the selections from my fellow Novelnauts, try to buck the trend in some way with unconventional choices of my own, or perhaps be “That Guy” and eschew the whole exercise because of some half-baked reason that sounded pretty good in the shower this morning.
Nah. I hate being “That Guy.”
Therefore, I perused the shelves in my writing office and decided on four quite different books that each focus on a different area of writing.
First up is one that’s already been mentioned a few times, Stephen King’s On Writing. What could I possibly add to the accolades this book has already received? It’s a wonderful little volume, spare in language and direct on advice (most of which really boils down to, “Why are you reading this when you could be writing?”). The book offers a glimpse into the life and process, mind and even soul of one of the most celebrated authors of the past fifty years.
Speaking of King, another favorite book from my writing shelf isn’t really a “How to” book in the true sense, even though reading it did give me a new appreciation for storytelling. The Shawshank Redemption: The Shooting Script contains the original film screenplay along with notes and observations by writer/director Frank Darabont, who gives readers a tour into his process of adapting King’s original novella, Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption, for the screen. It is a wonderful chronicle of taking a powerful story and making it into what is commonly regarded as one of the greatest films of the 20th century.
Next, I’m going to slide over to something closer to the particular flavor of writing where I make a good deal of my living: licensed tie-in work. For a collection of wisdom, tips, tricks, and cautionary tales, we have Tied In edited by Lee Goldberg and collecting nineteen articles and essays highlighting the history, craft, and business of this oft-misunderstood field of endeavor. This volume contains the fruits of hard-won experience from some of the biggest, most enduring names in the field, many of whom are multiple award winners for their original prose or television and film writing. Some of the people contributing essays to this collection are authors I was reading thirty years ago, and who inspired me to want to write in the first place.
Finally, I’m definitely going to pull out an oddball choice, which earns a spot here just for its title: The Elements of F*cking Style, by Chris Baker and Jacob Hansen. As explained by the authors in their introduction, their aim is put some fun into the learning of writing and grammar rules. Though presented as parody, the simple truth is that reading this delicious little time will make you take a long, hard look at the state of the written word, and give you a new appreciation for grammar and...yes...f*cking style as you write. Warning: Objectionable language and references litter this book. Proceed with caution.
I suppose I could just read the comments attached to this month’s previous articles and get a look at other people’s favorite writing books, but then I wouldn’t get to feel the same rush of attention and love from the audience that those other writers received. So, go on and repeat all of your choices and selections again down below. Thanks!