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Wednesday
Mar072012

Twelve Writer Woes and the Books to Cure Them

Last Lecture by Randy Pausch - and other books
Photo via BrewBooks
I'm a writing book whore. I can't deny it. I know every how-to-write book says this ones is "the only writing book you'll ever need". But yeah, whatever. Not true. Every book on craft I pick up, I learn SOMETHING new. A new technique, a new way to look at things, an a-ha moment on something I was having trouble with. These books feed your writer brain like Reese's chocolate easter eggs feed your soul--wait, the egg thing may just be me, but you see what I'm getting at. So I figured I would compile a list from my personal stash of writing books to recommend.

*This is an old post that I have updated and added new books too. 

 

Twelve Writer Woes and the Books to Cure Them

 

Problem #1: You're a pantser and are dying to figure out a way to SIMPLY plot. 

Though I have a little nerdgasm looking at pictures of people's plotting white boards with all their notes and post-its and color-coding and index carding, the idea of actually doing that to one of my stories makes my throat close up in anaphylactic shock. But, at the same time, I crave some organization, some rough map of where I'm going. Enter my favorite book, *pets its cover* Seriously, life-changing. I can now write entire synopsis (to sell on proposal) before I've written any of the novel. Don't worry that it says screenwriting, it totally applies to novels as well.

 

Save The Cat! The Last Book on Screenwriting You'll Ever Need

Save The Cat! The Last Book on Screenwriting You'll Ever Need

 


Problem #2: You keep getting partial requests but not follow-up full requests. So, you may, um, suck at openings. 

Hooked: Write Fiction That Grabs Readers at Page One and Never Lets Them Go

Hooked: Write Fiction That Grabs Readers at Page One & Never Lets Them Go


Problem #3:  You're writing your first book and are absolutely overwhelmed by the process. 

Your First Novel: An Author Agent Team Share the Keys to Achieving Your Dream

Your First Novel: An Author Agent Team Share the Keys to Achieving Your Dream

 

Problem #4:  Your stories seem to lose focus or meander during the process.

Or maybe you're getting feedback from critters saying--I'm not really sure why your character is doing this or this scene doesn't seem to have a focus/point. This means you need to get down to the bones that hold a character and story together. This one is a classic you'll hear recommended over and over.

 Goal, Motivation, & Conflict

(If you buy this one, get it from this link. It's cheaper directly from her site.)

Goal, Motivation and Conflict: The Building Blocks of Good Fiction

 

Problem #5:  You know you can write, but your books still aren't getting that agent or publisher. 

You get feedback like, "You clearly have talent, but the story or characters just didn't resonate with me or reach out and grab me."

The Fire in Fiction: Passion, Purpose and Techniques to Make Your Novel Great

The Fire in Fiction: Passion, Purpose and Techniques to Make Your Novel Great

 

Problem #6: When you go back to edit your book, you have to cut a ton of scenes because they just aren't moving the story forward or adding anything.

Make a Scene: Crafting a Powerful Story One Scene at a Time 

Make a Scene: Crafting a Powerful Story One Scene at a Time

 

Problem #7 You need to write some hawt scenes, but whoa, shock of all shocks, sex isn't that easy to write! Who knew?

Passionate Ink: A Guide to Writing Erotic Romance

Passionate Ink: A Guide to Writing Erotic Romance


Problem #8: You've been told you need to "tighten" your writing.

A nuts and bolts guide that will get your waistband cinched up quicker than Jenny Craig...

The Book on Writing: The Ultimate Guide to Writing Well

The Book on Writing: The Ultimate Guide to Writing Well

 

Problem #9: You just want a kickass book on writing and want to hear Stephen King talk about what adverbs have to do with hell. 

On Writing: 10th Anniversary Edition: A Memoir of the Craft

On Writing: 10th Anniversary Edition: A Memoir of the Craft

 

Problem #10 - Your characters jump off the page and readers instantly feel connected to them, but your plot is weak or downright absent.

This book has been a life saver for me because plot is always my biggest struggle. It's one of those books you want to read slowly and more than once because there's a brilliant nugget on every page.

 

 
 

 

Problem #11 - You can come up with the most twisty-turny, compelling plot ever, but your characters are cardboard players stuck in there just to serve the plot or completely unbelievable.

The Complete Writer's Guide to Heroes and Heroines

 

 

Problem #12 - You're writing is "good" but you can't seem to make that draft sing and stand out. 

I had the privilege of seeing Margie Lawson speak at a local conference on fresh writing and it really was a revelation. (When you read MELT INTO YOU, the prologue was totally inspired by that class. I came home and wrote it the night after her lecture.) Her editing system and focus on taking the clichés out of your writing is amazing. She doesn't have a book, but she has lecture packets. And though twenty bucks may seem pricey for a packet, I can assure you these packets are THICK and chock full of awesomeness. Check them out here.

 

So those are some of my faves. Every time I open one of these books, I learn something useful. It's like my prescription when I have writer's block.

So do you suffer from any of these above afflictions? Which one? Do you have any of these books? What's your favorite craft book and why?

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