So, You Want to Write
Oh, that’s right. You’re at a writers’ conference.
You’ve sat down and learned to write every day. You’re getting better and want to improve more. There are a lot of ways to do so. Go to writer’s groups, attend conferences and workshops, find like minded souls online, read books, etc. I read every day so books for me are a good option, but don’t ignore the other methods.
I have read some books on writing. Looking back, what would I read if I knew then what I know now, and in what order? Granted this is personal and will be different for everyone else but the following will give you a good grounding. I won’t get into books on storytelling here but there are good ones. As Craig Johnson says, the number one thing in writing is: “Writing starts with the mechanics.” With that in mind, I will concentrate on that topic.
- “Self-Editing for Fiction Writers, Second Edition: How to Edit Yourself into Print”: by Renni Browne and Dave King, Apr 13, 2004. A great book to start with. A good read, fairly short and will give you a good grounding on several topics. There is a good reason it still sells well.
- K. M. Weiland’s “Structuring Your Novel: Essential Keys for Writing an Outstanding Story” Aug 17, 2013 and “Creating Character Arcs: The Masterful Author’s Guide to Uniting Story Structure, Plot, and Character Development” Nov 1, 2016. These two will give you a good grounding in what readers have come to expect in modern novels. What you might want to have in your opening, the structure and flow of a novel, how to tie the protagonists struggle in with the plot, etc. Not necessary to write a good novel but will help you make sure everything that readers want to see is there.
- Jeff Gerke’s “The First Fifty Pages” and “Plot vs. Character”. The man has a way with words. How to improve your opening and get a better grip on what Weilland talks about. If you have read the previous books, what he says will really sink in.
- Vogler’s “The Writer’s Journey.” He took Joseph Campbell’s treatises on what made the tales, stories and plays throughout history resonate and wrote a practical guide for authors. Granted, it is not as step by step as Weilland or Gerke but you see will where a lot of their concepts originated. I was particularly taken with the concepts of archetypes for characters. Hey, who doesn’t want big, colorful, imaginative characters. You can see a lot of what he presents directly impacting books and movies like “Star Wars.” And he doesn’t miss many opportunities for self-promotion. Granted, he is from the movie industry but if you want to sell books, it might be something to pay attention to.
These books helped me the most, there are others.