Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Books, Books, and More Books

How many "how to write" books do you have?  Writing for children, writing for adults, just writing in general?

The first writing books I had were sent to me by my daughter, with a note that basically said, Get off your butt and start writing!  And those 5 books were actually what started me writing with the intention ( and hope) of someday being published.

The best of those books were Crafting Stories for Children, by Nancy Lamb, and The Children's Writer's Word Book, by Alijandra Mogilner.  I've kinda gotten beyond the Writer's Word Book, but I still refer to Nancy Lamb's book.

Then there is Writing it Right by Sandy Asher, Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Renni Brown and Dave King;  Finding Your Voice by Les Edgerton; Writing the Breakout Novel by Donald Maass; The First Five Pages by Noah Lukeman; Characters, Emotion and Viewpoint by Nancy Kress; and last but certainly not least, Word Magic for Writers by Cindy Rogers.

These all grace my bookshelves, as well as the requisite 2010 editions of Writer's Guide to 2010, The Children's Writers and Illustrators Market, Book Markets for Children's Writers, Magazine Markets for Children's Writers, The Children's Writers' Guide ( 2009 edition), and just received, the 2011 Guide to Literary Agents.  Whew!

Have I read all of these books, cover to cover?  No, of course not.  I probably should, but instead, I pick and choose the chapters that seem to be the most pertinent to my current WIP.

Now, all of these books are wonderful.  Each offers something the others don't have.  I think they should all be on every children' writer's desk or bookshelf.  But!  Do you realize how confused you can get by reading all these books?  Each offers a different perspective to writing.  It may differ only slightly from one or more of the others, but it is just enough to cause you ( me, anyway) to say HUH?  But I just read something the opposite of this in Writing it Right !

One might say that exposition is necessary, another might say you should have very little.  One might explain that backstory should be brought in early on in the story, another will say backstory should be dropped by bits and pieces throughout the story.  One will say using adverbs is a BIG No No, another will say adverbs spice up the story if used judiciously.  And on and on.

What to believe?  How to write? Sometimes the books are more confusing than they are helpful!  I'm in my third course with ICL, and one instructor has said my novel should begin with action, another has said no, let's establish the relationships first.  Aaghh!

I suppose that all this confusion serves a purpose, however.  First, if we follow all of these books, we will be doing a mountainous amount of writing and no story will be like another LOL  Second, it does give us experience when we get to the point in writing that I'm in at the moment...looking for an agent.  Because the truth of the matter is:  there are no two agents in this entire universe who want exactly the same thing in a query letter ! !

Consequently, if you have experience in writing in different modes ( not genres, necessarily), you will have experience in writing a mulitude of query letters...and not any one will be anything like another.

All joking aside...umm, I wasn't entirely joking...the above mentioned books are a tremendous asset to any writer, and I seriously recommend them.

Until later, that's a wrap.


  1. very interesting article! What a thoughtfull daughter you have!!!!
    I have "yes you can" from Nancy I. Sanders. really good value! and i just oddered two books from amazon:
    - Writing Picture Books: A Hands-on Guide from Story Creation to Publication
    - Show Me a Story: Writing Your Own Picture Book

    Now I am going to read more of your blog!!!

  2. What an great question.

    I have the newly published (July 2010)"The Guide to Writing Science Fiction and Fantasy" by Philip Athans and forward by R.A. Salvatore (my favorite author, and whose books got me of MY butt and starting to write). I also have "How to Write Science Fiction and Fantasy" by Orson Scott Card.

    Obviously, fantasy is my target genre. I've read both cover to cover. They are excellent. They both touch on the some of the same advice, and yet both offer something the other doesn't.

    I also have 2 books about writing book proposals, and the 2010 Book Markets for Childrens Writers.

    The publishing world is daunting, but I'm slowly learning my way around, with the help of these books.

    sounds like you have a great resource pile, Mikki.