May 20, 2012

Perfecting the Craft

By Jennifer Debenham
One of my favorite things to do as a writer is to attend writing conferences or seminars. Perhaps this is because I LOVE to learn. I've often said I'd be perfectly happy being a full-time student. Too bad that's not very practical. Or affordable.

Whenever I attend one of these classes, I listen carefully when the instructor recommends a book on writing, because, let's face it, I love to read just as much as I love to write. Sometimes even more.

Because of this, I've acquired quite a collection of writing books. Some I've read all the way through; others (with stars) I've got on my "to do" list.

Have you read any of these?

If so, what are your favorites?

*Save the Cat and Save the Cat Strikes Back, by Blake Snyder. These books were both recommended at this year's LDStorymaker's Conference.

How to Write Science Fiction and Fantasy and *Characters and Viewpoint, by Orson Scott Card.

Story Engineering: Mastering the 6 Core Competencies of Successful Writing, by Larry Brooks. He was the keynote speaker at last year's LDStorymaker's Conference.

How to Read Novels Like a Professor, by Thomas C. Foster. Great for learning how to disect novels and get more out of them.

*Stein on Writing, by Sol Stein.

*Writing the Breakout Novel, by Donald Maass.

*Story: Substance, Structure, Style, and the Principles of Screenwriting, by Robert McKee. This book was recommended by David Farland/Wolverton when I attended his week-long seminar in St. George, Utah.

On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft, by Stephen King. Even though I haven't read any of his other books, this book was recommended to me over and over so many times that I finally broke down and read it. I wasn't disappointed.

*Immediate Fiction, by Jerry Cleaver.

How I Write, by Janet Evanovich, another book that was recommended so many times I finally picked it up. Loved it too.

So these are my books. Writing them down like this has reminded me how much I want to finish some of them and review others. Of course there's definitely no better substitute for just buckling down and writing to improve your grasp on the craft. No one ever became a successful writer simply by reading how to do it, but these are some great resources.

What would you add to the list?

And while we're sharing our lists, what are your favorite websites or blogs on writing?


  1. I have Stein on Writing, and I used it for basic formatting and fundaments on writing. It's very good. I've listened to Larry Brooks, and have taken most of his theories to heart, but I don't spend all my time reading other's ideas on how to write. I'm too impatient. I have my stories to get out. I do read lots of fiction, though. I love a good story.

  2. That writing conference really was amazing (and it was my first)! I wish I would have attended much sooner.

    I also am a fan of writing books and have been trying to learn as much as I can. The only one of yours I have is Save the Cat! which I highly recommend. And your other books I'l be looking forward to reading!

  3. Sometimes I think I'd rather write a how to book instead of a book.

  4. Oh, great! Now I have even more books to add to my to-read list! ;-> Thanks! I can use all the help I can get. Sidebar: I think I'll start with Story Engineering. I find Larry Brooks' blog at very instructive.

  5. Great post and thank you for all the information!

  6. love the list and the information! Thanks!

  7. I probably have 200-300 books on writing--including five or six of these--since I started buying writing books in the 1980s. Many of mine deal with writing in my specific genres (someday I might write a mystery, and I've done a lot of non-fiction work). Others deal with specifics of fiction-writing like characters, plotting, settings, etc. Others are books like the Stephen King tome, that is, "How I Myself Write" by Famous Author XYZ. I have some very old ones in that category, as well as more modern works. Others are on slang, or words used in different jobs or localities.

    Someday, I might have them all read. :-)

  8. Nice list to choose from. Thanks. I need to pick up some more of these.

  9. I am like you and try to catch what other people say are good books. I intend to get them and more read but working on it. I have all of the ones you listed but Foster, Stein, and Cleaver. Some I just acquired but haven't yet read or even scanned.


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