Monday, April 18, 2016

Books on Writing-- Recommendations

I just finished a book about writing called Ink: Eight Rules to a Better Book, by R.S.Gunthrie.  I reviewed it over on Goodreads, and said the following:

INK: Eight Rules To A Better BookINK: Eight Rules To A Better Book by R.S. Guthrie
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I really liked the personal tone and style of this book. I think R.S. Guthrie makes excellent points, and they are usefully distilled. The only reason I didn't give five stars is because I felt that some of the example pages went on too long. I found myself skimming those parts, but that may be more of a reflection on my interests than the section--I don't normally read the genre of the longer examples. Someone else might love it.

Overall, this was well-worth the money spent. Some of these are things I've heard many times before, but I think it's always good to hear it from a new perspective and gain encouragement from another writer. It was a fast, fun read that made me feel like I was sitting down and having a chat with the author.

View all my reviews

That left me thinking-- maybe it's time for another post on my favorite books on writing.

So here are my top five picks for books on the craft of writing:

1.  On Writing, by Stephen King.  I've spoken on this book before, but it really is the one book I always return to.  And I don't write horror, so don't let that stop you, if you aren't into horror.

2.  Bird by Bird, by Anne Lamott.  Funny, self-depreciating, and honest.  Really good encouragement when you are feeling overwhelmed.

3.  Save the Cat Strikes Back, by Blake Snyder.  This book saved my bacon and explained to me what my early manuscripts were missing.  As much as I love the idea of totally winging my story, it wasn't working for me.  This book taught me how to plot, and now I use a mixture of both approaches.

4.  The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron-- If you need serious inspiration, this is a great book for artists of all kind.  It is the book that got me writing again for myself and resulted in my first full-length manuscript ever.  I also realized while writing this blog that I had not rated several of these books on Goodreads or Amazon, so I have corrected that.  Reviews matter, from everyone.

5.  How to Write Science Fiction and Fantasy, by Orsen Scott Card.  A classic resource for anyone, but especially if you want to write speculative fiction of any kind. 

A special award--> The Prettiest Book on Writing Award goes to: Wonderbook, by Jeff Vandermeer.  I haven't finished reading this, but it's so very interesting to look at...visual learners and artists might find this book to be very helpful.  Not all the images are pretty, mind you, but the rich colors and vivid imagery used stick with you.

Bonus book for young people:  Spilling Ink by by Ellen Potter  (Author), Anne Mazer  (Author), Matt Phelan (Illustrator). The best resource I've seen on writing that is written FOR young people.  Best for older elementary and younger middle schoolers, I'd say.    I reviewed it on Goodreads fairly recently, and I am going through it with my homeschooling 10 year old daughter.

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This is the best book on the craft of creative writing that I've read that is aimed at elementary kids and middle schoolers. It's written to the young people themselves, which is fun, and offers challenges and advice from two different authors. Teachers could easily incorporate it into their classrooms. I am asked sometimes which books to help someone learn to write. My favorite writing book for high schoolers and up is On Writing, by Stephen King, followed by Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott. And I highly recommend those to teens and adults. But those books both have topics and language that is not aimed at younger students, especially in a classroom setting. Worry no more-- here's the book to use for your children and tweens, and even young teens. Age-appropriate and direct without being condescending or babyish, I think Spilling Ink: A Young Writer's Handbook is a fabulous, fun way to help kids learn about the practical issues of creative writing.

What are your favorite books on writing?  I'm always on the lookout for books about the craft of writing, because I believe firmly that writing is a skill we can all work to improve. My hope is that I am always improving my work.

Thanks for reading!


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