Thursday, July 12, 2007

Great Reads for Writers

As a writer, I am always looking for books that can help me improve my craft. Here are two of my favorites and the top two lessons I learned from each.

Self-Editing for Fiction Writers, Second Edition: How to Edit Yourself into Print, by Renni Browne and Dave King

Top two things I learned from this book:

1. Not to overuse -ly words as descriptions

When I first thought about this seriously, I nodded my head gently, furrowed my brow slightly, pursed my lips tightly, and wondered intently if I would honestly be able to abstain indefinitely from the overuse of -ly.

2. “Said” is usually the way to go

A conversation like this is almost sure to make an editor want to throw a manuscript across the room:

“But I love you,” she breathed.
“I know,” he sighed.
Doesn’t that matter to you at all?” she interrogated.
“I guess,” he grumbled.
“Then how could you do this to me?” she squeaked.
“I didn’t mean to,” he barked.

A few variations of said sprinkled in can prevent monotony in a manuscript, but a book full of breathing, grumbling, barking characters just isn’t all that swell.

See Jane Write: A Girl’s Guide to Writing Chick Lit, by Sarah Mlynowski and Farrin Jacobs

As a chick lit writer, I was drawn to this book written by a national chick lit author and a former national chick lit editor. Although the book is geared toward the chick lit writer, it contains some very sound advice that applies to all genres.

Top two things I learned from this book:

1. Character Sketching is a fun part of writing, not just something to get over with before I can start writing

Getting to know that my character can’t eat just one cookie, runs faster on the treadmill when someone’s watching, and talks in her sleep is an important first step to writing anything about her.

2. I am not the only one who in the middle of writing a book starts to seriously wonder if I have any business writing at all

Two bestselling national chick lit authors were quoted in the book as feeling this exact same way. Whew. I’m not the only one who wonders if I should have been an Elvis memorabilia collector instead.


Marcia Mickelson said...

I love the Self Editing book. It's my favorite too. A must-read for any author. I think it's the best out there as well. I haven't heard of the other one, but it sounds good too. I'll check it out. Great blog!

Katie Parker said...

Same as what Marcia said. I know and love the Self Editing book, and this Chick Lit one sounds very interesting. Thanks for letting us know about this one!

Tamra Norton said...

I can't wait to pick up this Chick Lit book--sounds great. And I loved reading your -ly conversation. Did you pluck that from my first novel? LOL! :)

Tristi Pinkston said...

See Jane Write sounds great. I don't write chick lit but it sounds like so much fun, I may have to give it a try!!