Today, as promised, I will continue my list of craft books I have on my personal book shelves. I’ve been writing for decades. However, writing novels has been a more recent thing. Without giving my age away I started my first novel when I was 50, and it took ten years to get published. I’m working on my fourth and fifth novel at present. Craft books are an essential part of understanding how to write, what to look for when editing, and treating your writing as more than a hobby.
My last post listed 15 books I’d read in part or cover-to-cover during my novel writing journey. Often writers are encouraged if you are treating your writing like a business you need to read one craft book a month. That assumes you’ll reread some more than once. Jerry Jenkins rereads The Elements of Style every year. Whether you read a craft book every month, or three a year keep the craft fresh in your mind.
Now my list:
Here are my still-to-be-read books. I realized there are more on my shelves I could mention, but those are out-of-print. That translates into having some of what the author mentioned outdated regarding trends in writing. I decided not to mention those.
Here they are—as they say—in no particular order:
- Sally Stuart’s Guide to Getting Published Sally covers all the basics. She was the author of the Christian Writer’s Guide for decades and still offers sound advice in her writing column in the Christian Communicator. This is everything you need to know from writing query, negotiating contracts to setting up your office and so much more. It’s a great read for someone who knows nothing about publishing.
- Writing Fiction for All you’re Worth, Strategies and techniques for taking your fiction to the next level by James Scott Bell. I noticed this was bookmarked so I have cracked the cover. This is the best of Bell’s articles and blog posts on writing along with new stuff. It’s laid out under topics so you can glean what you need. It can be read cover to cover if you prefer.
- Line by Line How to Edit Your Own Writing by Claire Kehrwald Cook This book has over 700 examples of original and edited sentences. I love examples because it helps me better understand what I’m looking for to correct my work. Writers need the skills of editing because publishers are looking for really polished work to purchase.
- Plot versus Character A Balanced Approach to Writing Great Fiction by Jeff Gerke. Another hands-on guide to balancing these two essential elements. Do you see a pattern in my book choices when it comes to practical examples? Jeff writes in an easy to understand style.
- Plot & Structure: Techniques and exercises for crafting a plot that grips readers from start to finish by James Scott Bell He gives techniques for structing strong beginnings, middles and endings. There are charts and diagrams and brainstorming techniques to help writers grasp the concepts presented. All the things I love when reading a craft book.
- The Irresistible Novel How to craft an extraordinary story that engages readers from start to finish by Jeff Gerke. He discusses how to discover your voice and explains the always confusing show vs tell. He offers a balanced view of outlining and writing descriptions.
- Polishing the “Pugs”: punctuation, usage, grammar and spelling tips for writers by Kathy Ide
Only a few of us are Grammar geeks. Every writer needs to have a manuscript clean of grammar and spelling errors. This book explains the proper use of all things grammarly as it pertains to publishing. She even provides spaces for you to add items not mentioned in this book. That way you have a ready resource of everything that you struggle with regarding usage, spelling and punctuation.
Again, I am offering the first edition of The Emotion Thesaurus to one lucky commenter. The authors have dug deep and presented options for external, internal and physical descriptions to help writers flesh out their characters. I love it. Their organization makes finding the right emotion for your character easy. Now that I have the new second edition I’m willing to part with the first edition. As I said in the previous post, I don’t markup books, so you won’t find any of my notes in it. Just leave a comment for a chance to win. I’d love to know what craft books you have on your shelves and why you like them. Or if you haven’t read it yet, why you bought it.