Jill Williamson on July 24, 2009
Here is a list of writing books that have taught me some amazing things about writing fiction. (Or books I’ve written to help others.) You can check many of them out at your local library or click on the cover to see them on Amazon.com..
No one person has given me more “Ah ha!” moments as I learned to write fiction than Randy Ingermanson. I took his Fiction 101 and Fiction 201 audio courses and learned so much. Now he has taken most of that wisdom and put it in this book. If you are a begining writer and can only afford one book, start with this one.
This book was the one I felt taught me the most about how to rewrite my first draft. I found it early on in my writing journey and learned a lot from it. Chapter titles include:
Show and Tell
Characterization and Exposition
Point of View
The authors do an excellent job of explaining what you might be doing wrong, and they give great examples of how to fix it.
“Toss aside your s’mores and put on your director’s chapeau. It’s time to stop telling stories and start making movies–on paper.”
This is the theme of Jeff Gerke’s lessons on writing fiction. It’s absolutely brilliant. As Jeff gives the example of a story told around a flickering campfire, you will see the difference between showing and telling. You can’t miss it. Sure, it will still take a lot of work to get your own writing to that point, but I wish I would have had this book back when I first started. Thankfully, I am always learning and this book is filled with so much good information, I will refer to it again and again. I highly recommend it for all writers. It’s the king of book you read and learn so much from. But it’s also the kind of book that you will want to pick up for reference when you need help. As Jeff says, “You are not a Jedi yet.” So if you want to learn how to write great fiction, if you need a bit of extra help with your writing, or if you need to know what you are doing wrong, you must have this book. You must. It’s worth it for Jeff’s Star Wars references alone..
Novelist, editor, and teacher, Sol Stein, offers a book filled with wisdom. He starts out by explaining that what a writer’s job is all about. Then he heads right into a chapter on first sentences and paragraphs. This book covers everything and it’s easy to read and apply. He covers fiction and nonfiction, so I devoured the fiction section and skimmed the nonfiction section. But there is some great advice in the nonfiction section that is good for a fiction writer to know.
We all dream of writing a bestseller. A novel that will live on the New York Times Bestseller list for weeks, months, and maybe even years. Maass explains the elements that all breakout novels share and shows readers how to use these elements to write a novel that has a good chance of succeeding in a crowded marketplace. They’ll learn to: – Create a powerful and sweeping sense of time and place – Develop larger-than-life characters – Sustain a high degree of narrative tension from start to finish – Weave sub-plots into the main action – Explore universal themes that will interest a large audience.
Speaking of bestselling authors, here is writing advice from one of the masters. Stephen King’s On Writing is a combination autobiography and writing lessons for aspiring novelists. I loved hearing about the nail on the wall where he would hang rejection after rejection as a kid. I loved discovering that even Stephen King was insecure about his writing. His story is one that authors will relate to coming from a man who’s been there. Reading this book was like I got to sit down with the best writing mentor and glean wisdom from his life. I’m so glad he write this book.
Storyworld First by Jill Williamson
This is a book for those of you creating a unique storyworld of your own. The question I hear most from beginners about building a fantasy storyworld is, “Where do I start?” Whether you’re starting from scratch or are looking to add depth to a finished story, Storyworld First will get you thinking..
This is a great book if you are writing medieval fight scenes. It teaches you to use a medieval short sword and shield, and a medieval long sword—not a rapier, which is a later Renaissance weapon.
And for grammar and punctuation, I recommend:
This is the book that the publishing industry uses for fiction novels. This is a book of punctuation and grammar rules. Need to know if the question mark goes before or after the quotes? What’s an em dash, anyway? And do you capitalize mom and dad or not? This book–at over 1000 pages–will give you all the answers. It’s been an invaluable took for me..
If you’re wanting a reference guide for writing that isn’t over 1000 pages, this is a great one to have handy. It’s only a little over 100 pages, and is filled with the most common topics of language style and usage.
Also, if you’ve written your first draft and don’t know what to do next, consider taking a look at the book I co-wrote with my blogging partner Stephanie Morrill. Click here to see the entire Table of Contents and read the first chapter on Amazon.com.
Every writer’s journey is different, yet as we’ve reflected on our experiences and those of the writers around us, we’ve seen time and time again that those who are successful are the ones who had the patience and endurance to stick with this writing thing. They didn’t look for shortcuts (at least, not for long), nor did they quit after five, ten, or one hundred rejections.
We can’t make the process easy for you, but it’s our hope that this book will be a tool you can turn to time and time again when you’re thinking, “Okay … what’s next?”
Includes tips for:
-Finding the right agent
-Weaving in theme
-Dealing with people who don’t get your writing
Find this book at your local bookstore, or…
On ebook at:
In Print at:
Internationally: The Book Depository