Friday, April 13, 2007

A Plethora of Titles

I was looking on Amazon at books on "Writing" and was amazed at the huge variety of titles available. It seems like writing is a popular topic. Are there really that many people who want to be writers? Or do folks who want to write just read a lot of tip books? I wonder if there are any good "titles" left unused. I know I thought I had quite a few different writing related books but there's no chance I'm ever going to catch up with what's available. So, those of you who read such works, what are the best ones out there. Personally, two books that I've found really helpful to me are William Zinsser's On Writing Well and Lawrence Block's Telling Lies for Fun & Profit. I also have King's On Writing, and Orson Scott Card's book on Writing SF and Fantasy, both of which had some good stuff in them.

9 comments:

Steve Malley said...

I couldn't start to tell you how many such tomes have come home with me by library card.

For me they're a bit like books on how to do karate. The moves look neat until somebody's punching you in the face. They're not useless, just not the holy grails so many claim to be when you're stalled out at 60,000 words. Too much work to give up, so little that there's no end in sight.

I also like screenplay books. They tend to focus on story structure and pacing, character development through action, all that good stuff. And sadly, movies are the dominant story-form for our culture.

Two of my favorites are STORY by Robert McKee and SCREENPLAY by Syd Field.

Lucas Pederson said...

Craziness!
I've got a few writing books, On Writing, by King, very good!
The Forest for the Trees, By Betsy Lerner. Also good.
Self Editing for Fiction Writer, by Renni Browne and Dave King. Excellent.
That's just a few that I have. I own perhaps a dozen in total. About half are mainly worthless drivel. But hey, what can you do right?

Josie said...

There is a very good book called "Championship Writing" by Paula LaRocque. She was a writing consultant for the Associated Press Washington Bureau and her writing is very clean and crisp.

JR's Thumbprints said...

King's "On Writing" I found very entertaining. I also have Zinsser's and Card's "How to.." books. Lately, I've stayed away from the "How to's", instead choosing to write and experiment on my own.

Stewart Sternberg said...

I think most of these books offer some common sense statements. Some reduce writing to a mechanical formula. I think a book on writing is fine for beginning writers, but for students who are serious, nothing takes the place of a creative writing class, a workshop, or a supportive but structured writers group.

It would be interesting to take ten of these books and to chart what they have in common. Mostly, they emphasize character development and knowing your genre.

Michelle's Spell said...

I love these books, but agree with Steve M -- it's fun, but not as helpful as one might like. I like The Forest for the Trees (Betsy Lerner) and The Literary Life (Carolyn See). They're both very pragmatic and funny. Also good -- John Dufresne's The Lie That Tells The Truth

Charles Gramlich said...

Thanks for the suggestions everyone. I'll have to check some of these out. Quite a few I've never even heard of. I just ordered David Morrell's book on writing, partly because of the article I'm doing. I'll report here on it.

Erik Donald France said...

The possibility for good titles is endless. The possibility for good content is wide open, too.

Clifford said...

I've read a handfull over the years and once upon a time subscribed to Writer's Digest magazine. I also read grammar books because my grammer sucks, though it rarely gets me in trouble.

My favorite writing book is probably The Career Novelist. It's written by a agent who explains what you need to do to develop a career as a writer rather than focusing on "selling your novel". His advice is good and presented well. I need to read it again.