When I was growing up we didn’t have the internet, I think we got it when I went to secondary school (comp, we called it). But before that we got our information from Encarta (do you remember that?) which was an encyclopedia on the computer, there was another one but I can’t remember it. Other than that we had to go to the library and look for a book if we needed information (the library, not the bookshop, how times change) and when I decided I wanted to write the library was where I found my first books about writing.
I probably read a lot over the years but I have no record of what books I read and can’t remember -there was no goodreads back then. The first books on writing I actually had were probably free with writing magazines:
How To Write A Blockbuster was also in the library and I often dipped into this book. It’s got plenty of interesting information, a character profile template and basic info on active and passive writing (show don’t tell) but it doesn’t really go in depth. ‘Write Away’ has helpful advice (a list of jobs for characters) and there’s a section at the back with pictures of places that have inspired the author’s settings. It feels more like someone talking to you than just facts like How To Write A Blockbuster
On Writing is part autobiography and part writing book, it’s one people often recommend and I keep meaning to reread, had it first from the library. The Writer’s Journey I bought for a couple of pence from The Works years and years ago (was it The Works then or still Bookends?) it’s a book about structure, there’s many plot structures out there and this is one of the well known ones that feature in a lot of popular films. I haven’t read much of this book but looking at it now it is interesting, it looks at specific films e.g. Pulp Fiction and breaks the scenes down into structure, helpful for writers who love to plot. Very intensive!
I don’t very often get time to read my writing books again, but they are helpful when I need some advice. They were all we had before smart phones with goggle at your fingertips ready to answer your questions. I bought the first two in this picture after seeing them advertised in magazines. Della Galton writes articles about writing for Writers’ Forum and this book is a great one for short story writers, it starts looking at the market which if you want to sell to magazines is important. But if you don’t it’s still helpful. It gets straight to the point and gives you the essential info with advice from other writers. Writing the paranormal is a good book to help avoid cliches and build a paranormal/fantasy world, I recommend it!
The Positively Productive writer I bought hoping it might help me to be more productive, it started to but I wasn’t meeting my goals. I am more productive now thanks to advice from writers online. This is one of those books that seem to offer so much but I find I learn more from writers giving advice on blogs or videos (youtube) which are free
I’ve bought way too many writing books over the years, The Five Minute Writer was a book swap, like the tiny book (free with a magazine) it is full of exercises which can be helpful, I can’t rememeber when I last looked at these. I like Back To Creative Writing School by Bridget Whelan, when I used to be stuck writing I started to use these exercises often to help keep me going, it’s on my Kindle (there’s more writing books on my Kindle).
I recently bought Editing The RedPen Way by Anne Rainbow and I’ve been working through it as I try to edit a short story, I’ll have to review it at some point. I bought the two books of editing in the picture above and paid about £7.99 for each one but they disappointed me as they did not deliver what they promised. They both seem to give a lot of detail about how to write (self editing book mentions tenses and naming characters) but do not really give me the editing information I needed. Maybe I just expected too much of them, they have a few helpful things in there but I felt they were just telling me how to write not edit. Editing The RedPen Way costs £2.99 and gives you a list of questions and things to look for whilst editing, which I am finding more helpful.
The Weekend Novelist is very indepth and gives you a list of what to do and when to write that novel if you only have weekends to write. I haven’t read this for years, I work weekends. There’s a lot in there but I’m not a planner and I don’t like following strict plans/rules. I’d rather have a goal to meet, or tasks to do that I have set myself but that’s not to say this book might not help someone else.
Your Writing Coach by Jurgen Woolfe: where How To Write A Blockbuster novel has plenty of information but doesn’t go into detail, this book does. There’s exercises and links at the end of each chapter. I’ve often dipped into this book. It has some good tips for when you get stuck and a good chapter on characters. Recommend it!
No Plot No Problem is the book to help you if you want to write a novel in a month, National Novel Writing Month is in November, I did this twice ages ago and it really helped me silence my inner critic. The book is great for Pantsers (people who don’t plan but write by the seat of their pants) and I enjoy reading it, it’s a morale boost.
Wonderbook, I never got around to finishing this book. I need to read it and review it, it has some interesting advice and the art work is amazing. Love it. Jeff Vandermeer is an amazing imaginative writer!
I have a lot of ebooks but I won’t mention them all: Write Your Novel From The Middle by James Scott Bell is another book for people who don’t plan. The idea is if you know the middle you can work backwards and think how to get there.
Most of these books I’ve bought because I’ve been stuck and hoped they would help me. Or I thought I was worried my story would not be good enough and I wanted to know as much as I could before I sat down to write. Now I find so much information online: blogs, websites or youtube videos and it’s quicker than reading a book. I also have found forums and quotes from writers helpful motivation and support.
Although I don’t read them, I don’t want to part with these books. I want to reread some. There are always recommendations for books on writing but we are all different so what may help one person might not help another and vice versa, we all have different obstacles and strengths.
Update: wrote 5 days last week only short bursts and managed 3,100 words. I’ve struggled to find time this week and am wondering if my blogging should’ve taken a break in order to get some writing done. I have a few blog posts to write but no time at the moment.
What books do you own/recommend?