“Everyone who got where he is had to begin where he was.”
— Robert Louis Stevenson
I didn’t want to stay where I was, so I went looking for some tools to help me become a stronger writer. If you want to write, run right out and buy these books. I highly recommend the following books because they give concrete, easily digestible advice every writer should follow. I’m not Margaret Mitchell yet, but I’m working on it…
On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft
by Stephen King
Stephen King’s most important point, I think, is that a writer’s job is to excavate the story — like a fossil — and recover as much of it from his imagination as possible.
Also, he insists that writers write every day until the first draft is down on paper. This advice has been crucial for me — it certainly keeps up the urgency. If I don’t care whether the hero and heroine get together quickly, who will?
But I confess right now, Stephen, I still constantly use too many adverbs. Sorry.
The Complete Writer’s Guide to Heroes and Heroines
by Tami D. Cowden, Caro LaFever & Sue Viders
This fun book gives writers sixteen archetypes for creating memorable characters — the boss, the seductress, the bad boy, etc. I find it very helpful in the planning stages and also when I first start a new project.
Scene & Structure
by Jack M. Bickham
I cannot begin to tell you how succinct and helpful this book is. Bickham breaks the scene into pieces and teaches writers how the pieces fit together to form a compelling novel.
Writing the Breakout Novel
by Donald Maass
This wonderful book tells writers how to think and write big, and explains the elements needed to separate a novel from the rest of the pack. I’m trying to get conflict on every page I write, but, alas, I still have one or two scenes in the kitchen. Forgive me.
Goal, Motivation & Conflict
by Debra Dixon
The fatal flaw with my first novel, I now realize, is that it doesn’t have enough internal conflict. Well, IC is the bane of my existence no more! After I attended Debra Dixon’s excellent seminar and inhaled her book, I had a huge aha! moment. Please, I beg you, read this book.