Monday, 31 March 2014

Inspiring Writing Books

I still have far too many writing books on my shelves, many of which date to when I first started writing and most of which remain largely unread. I've already given away several over the years and I expect a few more can go at some point. Apart from Stephen King's On Writing (which is still with daughter!), there is one print book that will always have a place on my shelf and in my heart - Becoming a Writer by Dorothea Brande.

Becoming a Writer

Dorothea Brande's famous book, first published in 1934, has stood the test of time and was greatly influential in making me begin to think like a writer. Both inspirational and practical, her psychological approach to being a writer and her methods have been copied and modernised by others over the years, but Brande's book is still one I like to dip into now and then. I'm still trying to follow her advice to harness the unconscious and to write anything at all before starting the day properly.

Two very different e-books have come to my attention recently and I downloaded both as I was intrigued by their premise - and promise! I've dipped into them and certainly intend reading from start to finish as I can see they will be very useful in helping me move on with novels in a more organised fashion (hopefully).

Write your Novel from the Middle

Written by James Scott Bell, Write Your Novel from the Middle promises a new approach for pantsters and plotters. So far, it's making sense and I'm aiming to put some of his ideas into action to help me move on with my current novel. I like the fact it applies to every kind of writer and the examples he uses from books and films appear to bear out his theory.

2K to 10K

The title of this e-book, 2000 to 10000 (or 2K to 10K) by Rachel Aaron, was intriguing enough to make me download it and I had previously read a little of Rachel's discovery on her blog. Subtitled 'How to write faster, write better and more of what you love' grabbed me at once and the reviews are good on Amazon. The figures in the title depict the increase in Rachel's output once she followed a certain way of working and of approaching her writing. Even the couple of chapters I've read have made me reassess a few things and I look forward to reading it right through.

I'm sure all writers have their favourite 'go-to' books when needing inspiration and there are countless numbers of them these days. Normally, I can't be bothered reading more than a few chapters, if that, but these two e-books contain ideas I haven't come across before. Must admit, this is when I like a print book - nothing beats marking a page when wanting to return to a specific point, but e-books have the advantage of being more affordable!

Do you have a favourite writing book you'll always keep?



Joan Fleming said...

I agree with you on Stephen King and Dorothea Brand, Rosemary. I don't know 'Write Your Novel from the Middle' or '2k to 10K', but both sound worth a look.

Joan Fleming said...

Oops! My apologies. I should have said Dorothea Brande.

Jean Bull said...

I've got On Writing and many more, but my first how to write book and also my favourite was Write Away by Elizabeth George, the author of Inspector Lynley and a teacher of writing. It has lots of good practical advice.

Teresa Ashby said...

Dorothea Brande and Stephen King are both permanent fixtures on my shelf too, Rosemary x

Maria said...

Interesting post Rosemary, looks like most of us have the excellent On Writing by Stephen King, as well as Dorothea's book.

I've also got 2k to 10k, although I have literally only read a few pages so far, as I am deeply immersed in Structuring Your Novel by KM Wellend.

More recently I've purchased Ghost Stories and How To Write Them by Katherine McGurl

I've also decided to purchase Stephen King's book via Audible as well, so that he can read it to me on car journeys whilst I'm working, and I can take it out with me on a walk after tea. Its a book I want to read again and again.

Thank you for sharing.

Rosemary Gemmell said...

I'm enjoying dipping into a couple of newer books for inspiration, Joan!

I'm glad you mentioned that one, Jean, as I always meant to get it since I used to love E George books.

Rosemary Gemmell said...

I'm not surprised, Teresa!

Thanks, Maria - I'd forgotten about the ghost stories which I'm pretty sure I downloaded but didn't finish yet!

Julia said...

I really like 'Bird By Bird' by Anne Lamott.

Rosemary Gemmell said...

I haven't read that one, Julia - thanks!

Joanna said...

Thank you, Rosemary, for a really interesting post.
I love the Stephen King and also 'Bird by Bird' and I own many others, including a good one by James Scott Bell that helps with pace and structure. But I can never tell how much of the advice I'm actually absorbing, even though it makes such good sense at the time I read it. I tend to drift away after a few chapters, having started out with a highlighter pen and high hopes, determined to memorise all the salient points. I will definitely re-read the Stephen King though, since it is so entertaining as well as informative.

Patsy said...

I have quite a collection and all had something useful to offer. On Writing is the one I go back to most often.

Rena George said...

Like you, Rosemary, I also have Rachael Aaron’s ‘How to write faster …” ebook, which I discovered on her blog. (Both excellent) I hold my hands up to having shelves groaning under the weight of my ‘writing’ books collection.
I would still make room, though, for a Teresa Ashby “How to Write Wonderful Short Stories” book. (Are you listening Teresa?) I’ll be the one pushing to the front to buy that first copy.

Rosemary Gemmell said...

Thanks for you lovely comment, Joanna - I know what you mean about wondering how much we absorb, or remember!

That seems to be the most popular one, Patsy!

Thanks, Rena - now Teresa should surely have plenty to teach us all!

Anita Chapman said...

Hi Rosemary, 'On Writing' is one of my favourites. The Dorothea Brande book sounds interesting-will have to look that one up and the other two you mention. I prefer print with these kinds of books too. I have 'On Writing' on my Kindle, but wish I'd bought the paperback so I can mark with post-its etc!

Suzanne Ross Jones said...

Great post, Rosemary.

I also have shelves full of 'how to write' books. But, like Rena, have a place already dusted on my keepers' shelf for when Teresa writes one.


Diane Mannion said...

An interesting post Rosemary. Thanks for sharing some of your recommendations. I'm coming towards the end of 'Writing a Novel' by Nigel Watts. Much of the information was covered on my writing course many years ago but it was useful to refresh my memory as I haven't written any fiction for a long time. It's a handy book but some of the techniques are a bit formulaic such as the Eight Point Arc. However, it's useful for checking your work afterwards to see whether it includes all the recommended aspects.

Anonymous said...

Oh what a great post! Thank you! I'm going to have to scroll through everyone's relies again and make a to-buy list. And yes I agree Teresa, please go write that book asap! I need to read it! :) Edith

Charlotte Harrison said...

i love stephen king's on writing! might look into 'becoming a writer', sounds good. charl x