Tuesday, December 31, 2013

What's On Your Shelf?

It's nearly 2014. The clock is ticking and tomorrow we'll be in a brand new year. Many writers will begin the year with a new goal--finishing the rough draft (that's me), or revising their novel, sending out queries, or some other goal related to their stories.

What about picking a craft book to read? Have you ever made that a resolution?

I am. Besides finally finishing FRIENDLY FIRE (I promise I will! Honest!), I'm going to try to use the books sitting on my shelf to learn more about making my book better.

I have books of inspiration and craft. My inspiration list are well read.
  • The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron
  • On Writing by Stephen King
  • Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott
  • The War of Art by Steven Pressfield
I've talked about these before and I still refer to them and their message often. When I'm stuck I remind myself that it's all resistance (Pressfield), and to keep writing every day (Lamott) or any of several truths I learned from King and Cameron.

But when it comes to craft books, I don't have such a good track record. The shelf is full of them, but I haven't finished many. In fact, I haven't started quite a few of them. ;-)

Here's a sampling of what I have on my shelf:
  •   The Fire in Fiction and Writing the Breakout Novel by Donald Maass--I know all the reasons to read these two, but tried to before I was a third of the way into FF. I think these will click when I finish goal one (see above).
  • The Writer's Little Helper by James V. Smith--This is my first craft book. It's more of a checklist than anything else. It'll be good to click through after goal one is accomplished.
  • Write in Style by Bobbie  Christmas and Don't Sabotage Your Submissions by Chris Roerden are much like the Smith with added expertise from the authors--both have professional editing experience. I'll be back for them later.
  • Make a Scene by Jordan E. Rosenfeld--This is another early buy. I floundered on the descriptions of scene types. Now I have a clue about them from experience writing and critiquing and I'll be back to read this one later.
  • The Writer's Journey by Christopher Vogler--This is another well-regarded craft book, but it doesn't fit my genre. I'll give it another look if and when I ever get back to my long-worked-on and long-delayed SF trilogy.
  • Plot and Structure by James Scott Bell--This is a recent acquisition. I'm over halfway through it. It's hitting the spot as a helpful book probably because I was already 85% done with FF when I got it.
Two new books on my shelf are Writing Subtext by Elizabeth Lyon and Wired for Story by Lisa Cron. Both come highly recommended. I'll get into them when goal one is done. And I have one on order--Nail Your Novel by Roz Morris.This is recommended for its info on emotional beats.

There's a pattern here--Either I tried to read the book way early in my novel, or I've just haven't had time to read them. I foresee more time when goal one is done and FF is out with my beta readers.

Now it's your turn. What's your favorite craft book? Any I don't have yet? ;-)


  1. The 'craft' book I got for Christmas is a grammar guide EATS SHOOTS AND LEAVES. I plan to crack the cover and figure some of these things out. I too have craft books on the shelf that I've never finished. I wonder if we've read different parts and can pool information and get an overall review? :)

    1. Ooh, that's a good idea! I usually start at the front and get stuck. ;-)

    2. I really enjoyed that book--I hope you do, too!

  2. I still haven't read that Anne Lamott book! All I ever hear is good things.

    I'd like to read that grammar book, too, Sara!

    1. Deniz, I read Bird by Bird in nearly one sitting. It's that good...at least to me. ;-)

  3. Hi Zan Marie, I read a couple of great books last year, and have many more on my shelves and in my Kindle ... unfinished. This Year You Write Your Novel by Walter Mosely really spoke to me. I blogged about it twice. It's a thin book with lots of great tips. Here's my two blogposts. http://jessyferguson.blogspot.com/search?q=Walter+mosley The other book that I found fantastic is Digital Ink, Writing Killer Fiction in the ebook Age by Bonnie Hearn. It's an ebook only. Here's my post: http://jessyferguson.blogspot.com/search?q=Digital+Ink I hope you had a great Christmas. I'll mail your package soon and I did sign up for WriteAThin. We'll see what happens.

    1. Oooh, another to look at! I don't do well with ebook craft books. How's that for a strange sentence? I find that I can find so much fiction to spend my Kindle time on, that I rarely look at a craft one. Besides, I want to highlight, sticky note, and scribble in the margins. Ebooks just don't give me the same feel.

    2. I'm a highlighter too, and so glad I can highlight on my ebooks. I find I read more NF in ebooks than fiction. Go figure. :) Digital Ink is fantastic... you might want to reconsider. Go read the reviews and then decide. The only think I hated about it was ... it's an ebook! LOL

  4. I have a lot of craft books piled up as well--I really need to work on that! :)

    1. Yes, that's one of my goals once I get a good finished draft of FF. Good luck, Lara!


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