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Craft of writing books-tell us your favorite!

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What are some of your favorite craft of writing books? Over on the Illustration and Graphic Novel boards we've compile lists of our favorite art craft books, and so we thought it would be really useful to compile a list for the craft of writing.

Please tell us the title, a sentence or two of what it's about and why you recommend it, and a category it fits into, like revision, plotting, rhyme and meter etc. We'll then compile and organize a list and post it as a sticky!

Thanks for your recommendations!  :thanks
#1 - August 03, 2014, 09:02 PM
THIS LITTLE PIGGY (AN OWNER'S MANUAL), Aladdin PIX June 2017 :pigsnort
KUNG POW CHICKEN 1-4, Scholastic 2014 :chicken

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Great idea! I like WRITING PICTURE BOOKS by Ann Whitford Paul. It has instructions on generating ideas, creating characters, POV, story structure, plotting, word count, rhyme and more. It has revision exercises and info about the market too.
#2 - August 03, 2014, 11:22 PM
My Australia - National Library of Australia (April 2018)
I've Got Eyes! - Amicus Ink (August 2018)

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Cheryl Klein's Second Sight
Mary Kole's Writing Irresistible Kidlit
Stephen King's On Writing
#3 - August 04, 2014, 02:50 AM

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On editing, I love Edit Yourself by Bruce Ross-Larson. It has lots of great tips on how to tighten and clarify your language.
#4 - August 04, 2014, 03:19 AM
Twitter: @SuperKate
Check out my middle grade book recommendations at www.kidbooklist.com.

'Story Physics' by Larry Brooks.


Excellent book on what matters most in a story. There are currently two theories on how to write a story - seat of your pants - or outlining. Larry details how both of these models don't truly hit the mark for modern authors. He has a third way - blueprinting - a fresh new approach for storytellers.


http://www.amazon.com/Story-Physics-Harnessing-Underlying-Storytelling/dp/1599636891


Cheers


Pete
#5 - August 04, 2014, 04:40 AM
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John Truby should pay me commission because I talk about his amazing book, THE ANATOMY OF STORY, every chance I get. This book is an incredible resource. It's an in-depth guide on how to dig into your story, improve the nuts and bolts, and ensure that it all holds together.
#6 - August 04, 2014, 05:06 AM
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My Very UnFairy Tale Life, Dirt Diary, and Switched at First Kiss series--Sourcebooks
POWER DOWN, LITTLE ROBOT--Henry Holt

Yes, yes, yes, I agree with Anna 100%. John Truby. I use it religiously for everything I write. Other books I consult, or flip through for motivation, but Truby I go through chapter by chapter every time.
#7 - August 04, 2014, 06:28 AM
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Inspiration:
- On Writing by Stephen King (not much about how to write, but very inspiring)
- Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott - for the knowledge that your first draft can be rotten (she uses a more colourful word)
- Zen in the Art of Writing by Ray Bradbury
- The Courage to Write by Ralph Keyes (reassures you that even E.B. White was terrified of writing)

How to Write:
- Telling Lies for Fun & Profit by Lawrence Block - all the practical information a new novelist needs to get started. My copy was underlined and practically falling apart.
- Story by Robert McKee
- Stein on Writing by Sol Stein
- Save The Cat! by Blake Snyder (about screenwriting but very good on plot structure and lots more)
- Hooked by Les Edgerton (deals with the first page and the first chapter; helpful for query writing, too)

Revision:
- Second Sight by Cheryl Klein
#8 - August 04, 2014, 05:35 PM
« Last Edit: August 04, 2014, 05:37 PM by Barbara Etlin »
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I really like http://www.amazon.com/Writing-Both-Sides-Brain-Breakthrough/dp/006254490X Especially the part about gestating.


Cheryl
#9 - August 04, 2014, 06:26 PM

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I second Barbara above. Stein on Writing, by Sol Stein is my top pick for all aspects of the craft, especially dialogue.
#10 - August 04, 2014, 08:16 PM
A Smidgen of Sky (Harcourt 2012)
A Sliver of Sun (book #2)
 A Million Ways Home (Scholastic 2014)
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I like a lot of the books already mentioned, but I want to add SCENE & STRUCTURE by Jack M. Bickham and CHARACTERS AND VIEWPOINT by Orson Scott Card.
#11 - August 06, 2014, 11:40 AM
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thanks everyone!!  :thankyou  I'll give it a couple more days before I compile to see if any more recs get posted. I have a few to add that haven't been mentioned yet too.
#12 - August 06, 2014, 11:43 AM
THIS LITTLE PIGGY (AN OWNER'S MANUAL), Aladdin PIX June 2017 :pigsnort
KUNG POW CHICKEN 1-4, Scholastic 2014 :chicken

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@cynmarko

The haiku handbook, by William J. Higginson.
How to outline your novel, by K.M Weiland
Almost Perfect Crimes, by Hy Conrad

The first has essays on writing haiku, and the culture behind it.
The second teaches you how to plot, if your not a seat of the pants writer.
The third teaches you how to write mystery in miniature.
#13 - August 06, 2014, 03:15 PM

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I agree with others about Cheryl Klein's Second Sight, it's fabulous for in-depth study on revision and story analysis. Even though a few of her explanations remain beyond my grasp (I understand, but I don't understand), I know it's knowledge worth pursuing.


One I haven't seen mentioned is Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Renni Browne & Dave King. I chant their advice - Resist the Urge to Explain (RUE) - about twenty times a paragraph.  :grin3


A craft book that I'm testing right now and finding helpful is James Scott Bell's Write Your Novel From the Middle: A New Approach for Plotters, Pantsers and Everyone in Between. He explains story structure in plain, simple language, demonstrating how good story hinges on the midpoint. So far, his suggestions have trimmed hours off my normal pre-writing process.
#14 - August 07, 2014, 07:32 AM
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"Self-Editing for Fiction Writers", by Renni Browne and Dave King, though written in 2004, is good any year....wonderful book!
#15 - August 07, 2014, 01:45 PM

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I've written a few different blog posts about writing-related books. I've stripped the original post down about craft books, but I've also included links to my original posts if you want to read more descriptions.

CRAFT: http://yvonneventresca.com/1/post/2014/02/friday-five-5-books-to-improve-your-writing.html


The First Five Pages: A Writer's Guide To Staying Out of the Rejection Pile by Noah Lukeman
 Despite the book title, Lukeman's advice often applies to the whole manuscript, not just the opening.


The Elements of Style by William Strunk Jr., E.B. White
This old stand-by makes it easy to look up problematic word usage, like lie vs. lay.


Writing Irresistible KidLit: The Ultimate Guide to Crafting Fiction for Young Adult and Middle Grade Readers by Mary Kole
 This recent book (published in 2012) provides great advice for children?s writers and provides many examples from contemporary fiction.


Self-Editing for Fiction Writers: How to Edit Yourself Into Print by Renni Browne, Dave King
 My copy has lots of highlighting. (And I'm using the passive voice here on purpose!)


Plot & Structure: Techniques and Exercises for Crafting a Plot That Grips Readers from Start to Finish by James Scott Bell
 I particularly liked chapter eleven about revision, since I spend a lot of my time on that part of the process.


MARKETING BOOKS

http://yvonneventresca.com/1/post/2014/03/friday-five-5-marketing-books-for-writers.html

WRITING INSPIRATION BOOKS

http://www.yvonneventresca.com/1/post/2014/01/friday-five-5-writing-books-to-get-you-unstuck.html

Hope this helps.


Yvonne
#16 - August 07, 2014, 08:28 PM
« Last Edit: August 07, 2014, 08:30 PM by Yvonne Ventresca »
BLACK FLOWERS, WHITE LIES, Sky Pony Press, 2016
PANDEMIC, Sky Pony Press, 2014
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I love many of the books people have already brought up.

One I don't see mentioned here that really helped me understand the importance of tension (although it wouldn't have helped me when I was just starting out because I wouldn't have understood it yet) is Donald Maass, The Fire in Fiction. I also find his Writing the Breakout Novel (and workbook) helpful, especially when I'm at the revision stage of a novel.

A recent book I like is Nathan Bransford's How To Write A Novel.

And one that I think is really useful for seeing how picture book and MG novel writers revise (there are plenty of samples of writers at work, rethinking their works in progress) is Sandy Asher's Writing It Right.
#17 - August 14, 2014, 06:14 AM

A bit off track here - but does anyone know what books the most famous writers used when they were developing their hit books?  Did Suzanne Collins, Stephanie Myers, John Green etc give notes on their reference reading?

I would assume they have read some of the various titles listed on this post.
#18 - August 18, 2014, 02:28 AM
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Currently reading Steven Pressfield's The War of Art after hearing a recent interview with him. After I bought it, my husband stole it from me before I could begin, and filled pages of little post-it-notes as he read. He said, "This isn't just for writers!"


As others have mentioned, but they deserve a "ReTweet," don't miss Stephen King's On Writing, and also Donald Maass' books. Also Cheryl Klein's book, Second Sight, puts together all her talks/blogposts, and focuses on revising - a subject many writing books don't fully explore.
#19 - August 18, 2014, 05:10 AM
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I don't know that every writer with a bestseller necessarily woke up one day, decided to craft a book based on a writing book, and voila! They had a best seller. (If only it were that easy!) Stephen King, according to his book On Writing (which you should read if you're curious about his process), mostly seemed to have just written story after story and collected rejection after rejection, even tossing his stuff in frustration, until his wife fished it out of the trash and said, no, this is good, don't toss it yet. Stephenie Meyer did not have a premeditated plan to write a bestselling book--she had a dream and wrote it down while her kids were in swimming lessons. (Although--she was an English major in college, so she knew stuff about books, etc.) Her sister read it and said, yanno, you should try to publish this. I don't know Suzanne Collins' process, but The Hunger Games was not her first book--she had a whole series, Gregor the Overlander, published before that. JK Rowling is a meticulous planner, but she also did not spring out of nowhere--she'd written two unpublished novels before selling Harry. I suspect some authors simply figured out things that worked while they were writing other books before they hit that particular combination of skill and timing.

It would be interesting, though, to read any craft books written BY someone like that, though. And yes, definitely, if they were studying something in particular, it would be interesting to see what it was, and figure out the connections. (The theory and the practice, as it were.)

Brandon Sanderson is sort of an up and coming star in the SFF world right now (who also wrote 13 novels before finally selling one of them), and he does write in a very premeditated way, and he also teaches university courses on writing fiction. He allows his lectures to be recorded, and you can see a list of them here: http://www.writeaboutdragons.com/brandon_w2012/ If you are a plotter, they can be very helpful! If you are not, they are fantastic for when you are revising. 
#20 - August 18, 2014, 06:03 AM

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Brandon Sanderson is fascinating! Thanks for sharing.
#21 - August 19, 2014, 03:57 PM
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Oh, Rose! These lectures look so promising! I can see they could very easily become another Way to Read about Writing Instead of Actually Writing, but if you decide to limit yourself to just one a day, while cleaning up the kitchen, for example, or ironing*--wow, a class w/o having to pay for it.

*Ironing. An ancient way of getting wrinkles out of clothes. :ironing:
#22 - August 19, 2014, 04:32 PM

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Um, yeah. Over the course of a year, I went through all of them. And now when I went to search for the link again, I see that a whole new set has been added. I had to limit myself, but it's reeeeeally good--even if you don't write fantasy.

Another great place to read about craft is Maggie Stiefvater's blog. Specifically her posts labeled How I Write (which you can find here: http://maggiestiefvater.blogspot.com/search/label/how%20I%20write) A while back, she and a bunch of other writers did this sort of online workshop on revision, and it's excellent. (Here: http://maggiestiefvater.blogspot.com/2012/01/from-rough-to-final-ten-dissections.html)

Ummm, basically you can spend all your time reading about writing, and not actually, yanno, writing, like you said, Anne. :) But if you pace yourself by reading up on something you're trying to improve, and then turning around and applying it to your own writing, you can make it work for you.
#23 - August 19, 2014, 06:02 PM

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Has anyone read Story Engineering by Larry Brooks? What did you think?
#24 - August 25, 2014, 08:11 AM

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I've read tons of writing books. Here are my favs.

For picture books: Writing Picture Books by Ann Whitford Paul

For traditional poetry: Writing Metrical Poetry by William Baer. If you work through it, it's like taking a poetry course.

For novels: The Writing Guide to Crafting Stories for Children by Nancy Lamb. This is the book that gave me the courage to try writing a novel.
                 Plot and Structure by James Scott Bell

For revision: Revision and Self-Editing by James Scott Bell. I liked this more than Browne & Kings, although that may be because I read this one first.
                   Writing the Break-Out Novel Workbook by Donald Maass. I use this now for every novel's revision. It's much better than the book of the same name.

There are so many excellent books out there, but these are the ones I think I learned from the most.
#25 - August 25, 2014, 08:41 AM

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So many good books here! One I didn't see mentioned is Word Painting by Rebecca Mclanahan. Excellent resource for writing descriptively.

Hope that helps!

Rue
#26 - August 25, 2014, 11:49 AM
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My favorites are:

Stephen King's On Writing
Ray Bradbury's Zen in the Art of Writing
Mary Kole's Writing Irresistible Kidlit
Cheryl Klein's Second Sight

Hope you find them useful!
#27 - August 05, 2015, 01:28 PM

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Lots of great books here. I esp. like The Donald Maass Workbook. And I like the craft books by James Scott Bell and Orson Card.

I'll add a couple more that I don't see mentioned. For when you need a friend, I like WORD WORK by Bruce Holland Rogers. It's not a craft or inspiration book but really about how to maintain this writing life. I met him and he's equally wonderful in person.

For poetry, which I have not studied systematically, I like POEM MAKING by Myra Cohn Livingston. This was my summer study, though I have no beautiful poems to share ... yet.

Vijaya
#28 - August 05, 2015, 02:46 PM
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I agree with Julie M. Writing Picture Books by Ann Whitford Paul is my all time favorite book on the craft of writing for kids.
#29 - January 30, 2017, 10:52 AM

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I, too, really like "Writing Picture Books" by Ann Whitford Paul.
I also like "Story Sparkers: A Creativity Guide for Children's Writers" by Debbie Dadey and Marcia Thornton Jones.  This book covers every aspect of writing children's books, and it does it very creatively.  Some of my favorite features of the book include its appendix and whole chapter full of nothing but writing exercises, as well as its templates for plot and character sketches.
#30 - January 30, 2017, 11:41 AM

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