However, it is time to get organized.
I have read a lot of books on the craft of writing. Today, I place them in a rough syllabus for further study. All of these titles contain valuable lessons and bits of inspiration. They are like family to me; often arguing and bickering to the point of ridiculousness. Sometimes, as I watch the debate, I see what many of the authors don’t seem to recognize–they agree more often than they think. In many cases it is a matter of semantics and syntax as much as true disagreement. There are complementary layers of greatness in these books on how to write fiction.
My goal has always been to learn what I need to write well from the combined tenets of all the best writing coaches I can find. So here is the list in the order I am currently studying them (with no attempt to reveal which is my favorite; it is merely where I am starting today):
Story Trumps Structure (by Steven James)
I had the chance to listen to this author speak at OWFI and later started reading The Bower Files. If you have a chance to hear him talk, do it.
Story Fix (by Larry Brooks)
I just picked this one up because I really learned a lot from Story Engineering and Story Physics–which are on my list for further study.
Story Engineering (by Larry Books)
Although I wasn’t an outliner at the time, and still struggle with pre-planning stories, the observations in this book blew me away. I remember watching World War Z afterward and exclaiming “Right there! That’s the First Plot Point! Exactly like in Story Engineering!
Story Physics (by Larry Brooks)
This one goes deeper and expands on the ideas in Story Engineering.
Blueprint Your Bestseller (by Stuart Horwitz)
This book explains, in detail, how to break your book down into scenes and then put it back together in narrative order. The concepts are novel and powerful; it takes work to grasp everything but it is worth it.
Book Architecture (by Stuart Horwitz)
I wrote a blog article on this one here.
Self-editing for Fiction Writers (by Rennie Browne and Dave King)
It has been awhile since I read this one, so I won’t butcher it by attempting a summary here. However, it is a must read. One of the take-aways deals with “small scale telling” and is something I use everyday.
Writing the Blockbuster Novel (by Albert Zuckerman)
Where can you find a step-by-step breakdown of how Ken Follet writes a bestseller? In this book, that’s where.
How to Write a Novel Using the Snowflake Method (by Randy Ingermanson)
This is a step-by-step method that I have tried several times with mixed results. Some of the products of this method are awesome enough to convince me I need another look at it.
There are many other books on my to-read (and to-re-read) list, but this should do for now.
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