Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Guest Blogger: Putting Your Writing Life on the Shelf

Putting Your Writing Life on the Shelf
Okay, this blog title is a bit deceiving. As a fellow author, I’d never encourage you to give up the craft entirely to pursue knitting or table tennis or chess boxing (yes, it’s a thing). Rather, I challenge every budding author out there to walk over and look at your bookshelf. Go ahead, look. How many books do you have about the craft of writing? None? Keep reading. A lot? Good for you. How many of them have you actually read?
If you’re serious about not just writing more, but writing better, your bookshelf should reflect it. Below you’ll find ten books from my personal collection that are must-reads for every aspiring author, no matter which genre or at what level you write.
Word to the Wise: You can find most of these books used on Amazon.com and save yourself a pretty penny. Plus, don’t forget to save your receipts and use them for tax deductions (as long as you’re pursuing publishing for profit versus writing as a hobby).
Here they are, in no particular order:

Stein On Writing – Sol Stein
If you purchase nothing else on this list for your bookshelf, buy this one. Seriously, go buy it right now. I’ll wait. Whether you’re crawling through your first manuscript of pounding out your twentieth best seller, Stein will quite simply Blow Your Mind. As he says in the opening pages, “This is not a book of theory. It is a book of usable solutions--how to fix writing that is flawed, how to improve writing that is good, how to create interesting writing in the first place.”

The Emotion Thesaurus – Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi
I literally clapped my hands in delight when I found this book. Conveying character emotions in unique, compelling ways is ridiculously hard. Or, it used to be, before I bought this book. Reference 75 common emotions to get a list of body language cues, thoughts, and visceral responses that will help actually figure out how to “show” not “tell.”

On Writing – Stephen King
Part memoir, part master class by a writing GENIUS, this book provides a “practical view of the writer’s craft, comprising the basic tools of the trade every writer must have.” Changed. My. Life.

How to Grow a Novel  – Sol Stein
Dive into details and examples from Stein's editorial work with a #1 bestselling novelist as well as talented newcomers. Learn how to develop memorable characters and gripping plots. Create realistic dialogue. Most importantly, find out how to avoid common mistakes before submitting your manuscript.

Self-Editing for Fiction Writers – Renni Browne and Dave King
From dialogue, exposition, and point of view to interior monologue and more, you’ll walk through the same processes an expert editor would to polish your manuscript.

Description & Setting – Ron Rozelle
Subtitled, “Techniques and Exercises for Crafting a Believable World of People, Places, and Events,” this book helps you learn how to create powerful settings, tie them into your plot, and use just the right kind of description to help your readers paint a clear picture of where and when your story takes place.

Visible Thought – Geoffery Beattie
Are your characters too “mechanical” or “mundane?” Do they pace, wink, grin, and shrug like their lives depend on it? An author must learn to use more than the default elements of body language, and that’s 
just what this book will help you do. 

Writing Mysteries – Edited by Sue Grafton
You don’t have to be writing a mystery to benefit from this book. Every author can improve their pace, characterization, suspense, and other elements by studying mystery fiction. A compilation of advice by more than a dozen mystery masters, this book shows you “how to tighten the screws of suspense.”

Formatting & Submitting Your Manuscript – Chuck Sambuchino
If you’re writing in hopes of publishing your work in the future, this book is a MUST. Chuck helps you avoid rookie mistakes that will land your manuscript in the slush pile. Dig into more than 100 sample letters and manuscript pages, instructions for electronic submissions, formatting and submitting guidelines, and tips from agents and editors.

2013 Guide to Literary Agents – Chuck Sambuchino
Again, for writers looking to publish, this book needs to be on your bookshelf within easy reach. Regardless of what genre you’re writing, you’ll need a literary agent to secure a book deal (unless you self-publish). This guide helps you find the perfect agent by providing updated contact and submission information for more than 1,000 literary agents seeking new clients.

Happy  reading, happy writing and GOOD LUCK!

About Nicole: Nicole Ross is a corporate marketer, blogger, and freelance writer. She is a chronic, unconventional hobbyist, equally at home on the back of a horse, inside the boxing ring, pounding away at her keyboard, and perched in downward dog atop her yoga mat. She’s an active member of the Writers’ Center of Indiana and contributor to Punchnel’s online magazine. She lives in Plainfield, IN with her roommates, an olfactory-obsessed Beagle named Penny and a blood-red Beta fish named O-Negative. Learn more at www.nicolekristineross.com.

A note from Sarah: I have known Nicole for almost ten years and you will never find a writer more dedicated to studying the craft than her! I'm honored to have her share some of her "go to" books on writing with us! If you're looking for a way to usher in the Spring season of your writing, check out the links above! I know I have room on my shelf for one or two more!

1 comment:

  1. Writing in long form requires an almost Herculean ability to delay gratification.