Thursday, June 23, 2011

Keeper Shelf for Writing How-to's

Some of the writer-self-help books are fluff, some are wonderfully helpful. Below are a few I keep on my shelf and refer to regularly.

The Romance Writers' Phrase Book by Jean Salter Kent and Candace Shelton

This book was printed in 1984 but remains a valuable resource for those times of writer's-block or when I just can't figure out how I want to say something.

There are over 3,000 descriptive phrases in The Romance Writer's Phrase Book divided into easily searched categories for subjects like "physical characteristics", "movement", "emotions" and even "sex". An unparalleled


How Not to Write a Novel, 200 Classic Mistakes and How to Avoid Them by Howard Mittelmark and Sandra Newman

This book is amazing. I can't say enough about how helpful it is as well as entertaining. When I was writing my first novel I found that I unknowingly made some crucial errors after reading How Not to Write a Novel.

"Any scene in which a character is shown waking up in bed or getting into bed is deeply suspect, unless there is someone new in bed with her."

Thank you, How Not to Write a Novel, for being humorous and informative!

Thanks, But This Isn't For Us by Jessica Page Morrell describes "deal breakers" for agents and editors across all genres of fiction.

I found the section on deal-breaker openings to be especially helpful. Even if it is well written, editors and agents apparently dislike a character who is in front of a mirror in the opening scene... or anywhere else in the story. I'm so happy I read this particular passage while writing my first book! And now, I know better.

Thanks, But This Isn't For Us gives examples of what-not-to-do and also offers alternate options so you're not left feeling like they've told you "You suck. Now, good luck."

What books do you keep within reach while working?