Thursday, April 20, 2017

Self Help Books Work If You Use Them

By Linda Thorne

These are all the writing self-help books I've read (and re-read) except for the last one that I'm still working on. I've studied them, considered their suggestions (some didn't work for me but might prove perfect for another author), and I've learned from all of them.
                                                                                                                                                            
The very first was basic, which is what I needed. I was living in the little town of Hanford, California in 2005 and decided I'd write a book and maybe others. I did what I thought would be the first step and drove down to the single bookstore in the Hanford Mall and looked for books on how to write a book. There was only one: You Can Write A Novel by James V. Smith, Jr. The cover at the time was blue with gold print. To the left is how the current cover looks on Amazon. This was perfect for a beginner. It went into the basics - actually had me making index cards with character traits, scene cards. It had templates you could use to "log" your plot. The book went over what I know as basics now, things like discussions on what cliches are and how not to use them and why. I really thought writing a book would be easy. Yeah, right, but then that's another story. 

Then came this one by Sol Stein. Great. Loved it. Helpful. Again, I was going to write a book and it would be easy. Again, in hindsight - yeah, right!
Here are others I finished reading and dove back into many, many times. 



Here are my more current favorites that I will use over and over again.

Hooked (below) is the most recent self-help book I've read. It's an invaluable resource and I will read it again and again. The Weekend Novelist Re-Writes the Novel is one I started, but stopped halfway through. It is very good and very needed for my work in progress, A Promotion to Die For, but I don't need to finish it now. A Promotion to Die For is not yet complete enough for me to "re-write" it for publication. When every chapter is complete, I'll finish reading The Weekend Novelist Re-Writes the Novel and use it as a resource to polish my finished project before submitting it to my publisher. 



If you're an author, what self-help books do you use? Do they help you? Do you absorb all the information or, like me, do you have to re-read and review over and over?







15 comments:

jrlindermuth said...

There are many to choose from and some are specific to genre. Three I'd recommend are Stephen King's On Writing; Elizabeth George's Write Away, and Gillian Roberts' You Can Write a Mystery.

Linda Thorne said...

Thank you, John. I've been meaning to get Stephen King's On Writing for some time, but I had not heard of the other two.

Amy Reade said...

I am currently reading On Writing by Stephen King and enjoying it very much. The first book I went to when I started to think about writing a book was Phyllis Whitney's Guide to Writing Fiction. I'm not sure if it's even still in print.

I have two books on my desk waiting to be read: Mastering Suspense Structure & Plot by Jane K. Cleland and the Structuring Your Novel Workbook by K.M. Weiland. As soon as I get a free minute I'll read them!

Great idea for a post, Linda!

Susan Oleksiw said...

I have far too many of these books, and now you've given me even more titles. Paula Munier has at least three books out--Plot Perfect, Writing with Quiet Hands, and Beginnings. I also like Save the Cat by Blake Snyder. Thanks for the post.

Linda Thorne said...

Thanks Amy and Susan for stopping by with a lot more such books I haven't heard of (except Stephen King's, which I've been meaning to get).

MollyLikesMovies said...

The ones that are keepers for me are The Zen of Writing by Ray Bradbury whenever I get down in the dumps, On Writing by Stephen King, and The Writer's Survival Guide by Rachel Simon. The Visual Encyclopedia is a wonderful reference--all the parts of a horse's tack, all the parts of a sailing ship, all the parts of a castle, etc., all laid out in clear and labeled drawings. When I started on the Gambrell series (sailing, ghosts and magic), I started with the Junior Golden Book of Sailing from the kids' section at the library and now own several sailing and navigation manuals.

Linda Thorne said...

Thank you Mollie. Lots more. Stephen King's seems to be common among most of you.

Morgan Mandel said...

Great suggestions, especially for those starting out.

Marilyn Meredith a.k.a. F. M. Meredith said...

I've read many of the books you and others suggested. But I've more or less settled into my own pattern of writing, or "voice" as others may have called it. On three shelves in my office you'll find many of those books, plus other reference books.

Linda Thorne said...

Marilyn, with as many books as you've written, I wouldn't be surprised if you didn't use them at all any more. I need constant help and reminders on all parts of my writing. You have so much more "under your belt." It sounds like you still have a "stash" of reference books on voice.

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Beth Fine said...

Oh Linda, what a good article this is with its how-to-write book list. Whether out of sheer ego, false confidence, or complete ignorance, I am embarrassed to say after composition classes in grad school, I've read only one book on how to write, the title now lost somewhere in my memory. It covered how to write historical fiction and recommended the submersion of a writer into a chosen era until feeling comfortable with its surroundings, implements, and manners of daily life. After absorbing and editing helpful background material, the book advised stepping out of the water, letting the residue fall away, and then trusting oneself to recall or apply whatever details would advance the story's plot and illuminate the plight of the characters. At age nine I wrote my first two novels, one of which had 26 chapters. Daily my teacher let me read a chapter to the students who rested their heads on desks after lunch recess. Having taught writing in college and survived my own adventures in life, I never thought to ask anyone else how to organize, stimulate, quiet, or release the bulging inner urge to write. However, two main writer rules I follow: "Write what you know" and "If you wake up each day wanting nothing else but to write, you are a writer." I think the rest of the process is a total mystery to me! Though that mystery may take the form of a "cozy" or a "graphic" story,I believe words slip from the heart to the fingertips and then get extruded through the writer's talent into a style that surprisingly fits the concept.

samia hussain said...

nice post

Linda Thorne said...

Thank you Samia.

harada57 said...

thanks

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