Monday, November 22, 2010

Recommended Reading

Posted by Susan Kaye Quinn

What writing books would you recommend?

Rebecca recommended Style: Lessons in Clarity and Grace to me a while ago, and I still recommend it to others that want to boost their craft. I recently purchased Ursula K. LeGuin's Steering the Craft, based on a recommendation from a talented author/speaker at a conference. Sadly, I've purchased many books on writing that weren't worth the money, or the time. I find recommended books from talented authors I respect tend to be the best.

Which is where you come in!

I'll take any recommendations and add them to my TBR, but in particular, I'm looking for books that talk about plotting or storytelling.

Thanks, me hearties!


  1. I'm not into horror, so when a friend recommened 'On Writing', by Stephen King, I was a bit nervous. But as far as a book on writing goes, I was quite impressed. (However, be forewarned, he's not afraid to use certain cringe-inducing curse words.)

  2. @Jonene That one's sitting on my shelf! Maybe I should actually crack it open. :)

  3. How to Write Science Fiction and Fantasy, by Orson Scott Card is a really good, basic, plain language manual on plotting, exposition, etc. You can read it in an afternoon and while some of it may seem a little too basic, it'll shore you up on all the basics.

    My two favorite books on writing are: Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg and Zen and the Art of Writing by Ray Bradbury, but they don't talk so much about plotting/storytelling as they do about finding the right mindset to love what you do. At least, that's what I've gotten out of them. They're in storage back in the US at the moment, so all I have are my memories of reading them to go on.

  4. @Emily Oh! I had forgotten Uncle Orson's book! That was one of the first writing books I read! But the other two are hastily being added to my TBR - thanks! ;)

  5. If you want a good pep talk, try Brenda Ueland's "If You Want to Write."

    I've also had the following recommendations, but have yet to read them myself:

    "Character and Viewpoint" by Uncle Orson
    "Writing the Blockbuster Novel" by Alfred Zuckerman

    "Story" by Robert McKee

  6. @Rebecca Thanks for the recs! Robert McKee's book was also rec'd by the speaker at the conference - I put it on my Christmas Wish list!

    And sometimes I def need the pep talk. :)

    They're all going on the TBR - thanks!

  7. @Rebecca Wow - the Alfred Zuckerman novel is out of print! Hello, e-book? A lot of out-of-print novels could recover some sales by going e-book, I think.

  8. Out of print? Someday those three little words will be obsolete, my friend.

  9. I hope so - especially for books by me and my friends. :)

  10. I actually differ there. Going out of print often allows the rights to revert to the author, so they can then resell or make other arrangements for their book to be published. I.e. many will keep their backlist in print via a POD publisher or e-publishing, but on their own terms and pocketing all the profits after their book has had a wide, mainstream release. It wouldn't break my heart for my book to go out of print. One of the downsides of modern publishing is the ability of publishers to keep your book barely in print forever, thus keeping you bound by the old contract you signed, even if it's not benefitting either of you commercially.

  11. @Emily I'm all for authors (re-)retaining their rights! But as reader, I wish for authors to make their books available - so if they go out of print, take advantage of all the new tech to get it back in print. On the author's best terms. All good. :)

  12. Out of print hardly means unavailable. Rarely have all copies sold, even years after the book was taken off the press, and even if they have, they're available used. Amazon's a good place to look, and it looks like they've bought out, one of the best resources to find out of print books. Unless it was a really tiny run of books, whether or not the book is in print really shouldn't affect your ability to get it.

  13. I suppose that out-of-print doesn't have to mean unavailable, but it definitely means "a lot harder to get." Take the Alfred Zuckerman book for an example - I can get it, but I'm not sure what it is. There's no cover, no peek inside. The price ranges from $3 to $100, some shipping from the U.K., and that's used, so you're really not sure what condition you're getting.

    That's more chance than I'm willing to take on a book that I'm not entirely sure is what I want.

    OR, Mr. Zuckerman could put it back online as an e-book, with a cover shot and a peek inside, or available as a POD. In either case, I would gladly pay the $10 to him to know what I was getting. Especially as an e-book, with no shipping.


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