People Keep Recommending Writing Books!

29 May

Books on writing abound for the novice, mid-ground, and even the seasoned writer. Everywhere I turn, every workshop I attend, weekend course I take, or email from places like Writer’s Digest, my attention turns to another book which will help with my writing. I’m a book person, so wanting to learn more from others’ books is just natural. And I am happy that wonderful, knowledgeable people  have gone before and written about the experience to help me in  my journey.

For today’s post, I give you a few names on my desk waiting for me to get to them. Some are on my iPad2, others more visible because they’re  paper.  Whichever format you prefer, books will most likely help you.

The Writer’s Manifesto by Jeff Goins, short but interesting. His feed shows him to be a down-to-earth, helpful and knowledgeable guy. He’s just had a new baby and I love how he weaves his life experiences into writing tips without being the least bit maudlin.

20 High-Octane Book Writing, Publishing, and Marketing Tips by Judy Cullins. She is adept at using social media to further her business by giving away a lot of helpful books.

Write Away by Elizabeth George. I haven’t finished it yet but from what I’ve read and from her reputation as a successful author, it’s a must. Also she was on Barbara Kyle’s list of craft books from a recent workshop I did with Barbara, another successful author.

The First Five Pages by Noah Lukeman. Ironically, true to the implication in his title, Lukeman’s first chapter is the best here.

Writing the Breakout Novel by Donald Maass. My good friend, Sharon Clare, first introduced me to Maass and I have digested his first three chapters to good advantage in planning my second book.

The First 50 Pages by Jeff Gerke.  I had to pick this up in a Victoria bookstore as I hear about the importance of openings so often. As yet, I haven’t actually read it. But soon.

Plot and Structure by James Scott Bell. The title is self-explanatory and since I’m trying desperately to break my pantser writing style in the hopes of having a tighter, more compact, and tighter novel, I bought it. For the flight home, I thought, but then I remembered the red-eye from Victoria and just tried to sleep. This one soon, too.

Practical Tips for Writing Popular Fiction by Robyn Carr. Somewhere I read about this book and decided I must have it. Online, I found it, used–I think it may be out of print–and it was waiting here for me when I got home. Don’t you just love having books in the mail? So this is a third title vying for my reading time. Dare I say it? Soon.

For a much longer list of more of the books I’ve accumulated, click on this earlier post.

As always, consider making your own contribution in the comments section. What is your favorite writing how-to book and why?


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23 responses to “People Keep Recommending Writing Books!

  1. creativityorcrazy

    May 29, 2012 at 2:07 pm

    Thank you. Always love a good book recommendation. I’ll have to look up Elizabeth George’s as I love a lot of the books she’s written.


    • elainecougler

      May 29, 2012 at 2:23 pm

      Thanks for your comment, Sabrina. And I, too, have enjoyed George’s work.


  2. Kristina Stanley

    May 29, 2012 at 2:12 pm

    Thanks for the list. I’ve read most of them, but didn’t know about Write Away. I just ordered it on my kindle. I enjoy reading Elizabeth George, so I’m excited to find her book on writing.


    • elainecougler

      May 29, 2012 at 2:23 pm

      Another Elizabeth George fan. Great. Don’t you just love sharing?


      • Kristina Stanley

        May 30, 2012 at 8:23 am

        I do. I tweeted your post and it got retweeted!


  3. Brinda Berry (@Brinda_Berry)

    May 29, 2012 at 4:32 pm

    I took a class that used Bell’s Plot and Structure as the basis. It’s great.


    • elainecougler

      May 29, 2012 at 4:49 pm

      Good to know, Brinda. I took a flier on that one and hope it pays off.


  4. Phyllis Humby

    May 29, 2012 at 4:46 pm

    Thanks for the recommendations, Elaine! I love Stephen King’s, On Writing.


    • elainecougler

      May 29, 2012 at 4:50 pm

      Me, too; in fact I love any writing book that helps me see a new or better way to hone my craft.


    • mypenandme

      May 29, 2012 at 7:22 pm

      I want to read that one! :-)


  5. Julia Robb

    May 29, 2012 at 4:52 pm

    When I began my novel, Scalp Mountain, four years ago, I began reading books about writing. It was a joyous experience. I never had more fun and was never more enthralled. Especially good, so I will never forget the book, was “On Becoming a Novelist,” by the late John Gardner. I also had great fun reading books about writers. Although I never believed I could read anything about Ernest Hemingway (what’s there left to say about the man?) I was greatly enriched by reading “Hemingway’s Boat,” by Paul Hendrickson. I learned people often suffer more than we can ever guess. Poor Hemingway.


    • elainecougler

      May 31, 2012 at 8:33 am

      Two more new titles for me, Julia! Thanks for your contribution.


  6. Sherry Isaac

    May 29, 2012 at 5:44 pm

    I’m more an online course or live classroom kind of girl than a how-to book-reader, but First Draft in Fifty Days by Karen S Weisner was very helpful, and I have yet to crack open The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. Loved Stephen King’s On Writing.


    • elainecougler

      May 31, 2012 at 8:35 am

      Weisner is new to me but loved Julia Cameron’s and Stephen King’s books. I’ve also come to realize that just reading parts is sometimes okay, too. We must look to our own needs with respect to our writing lives. Thanks for commenting, Sherry.


  7. Sharon Clare

    May 29, 2012 at 5:51 pm

    Yes, I love getting books in the mail! I’ve got a bookshelf of how-to books as well and find them very useful at times, but I have to agree with Sherry. I’ve learned the most from the many talented writers who present monthly with the Toronto Romance Writers. Workshops with Barbara Kyle and Donald Maass are two wonderful ones of the many!


    • elainecougler

      May 31, 2012 at 8:37 am

      And I so have to get to Toronto Romance Writers group. Where is that 36-hour day, anyhow? I like a balance between sessions others present and I just soak up and reading I can control, doing it when, where and how long I want. I’m a bit of a control freak, I fear. Thanks for visiting once more, Sharon.


  8. mypenandme

    May 29, 2012 at 7:25 pm

    This is wonderful, Elaine. Thanks! :-)


    • elainecougler

      May 31, 2012 at 8:39 am

      So happy to help. I was a high school English teacher so my love of books comes naturally, as does my proclivity for helping others. I only wish I had known of some of the books, blogs and magazines that are out there to help when I first started writing.


  9. successbmine

    May 30, 2012 at 1:03 am

    I have a number of books, but never seem to have the time to read them. :0( These sound like good ones. Have you ever read Eats, Shoots and Leaves by Lynne Truss? I have heard a lot about it but haven’t read it. It is evidently about grammar and punctuation.


    • elainecougler

      May 31, 2012 at 8:47 am

      Eats, Shoots and Leaves is often touted but I haven’t read it, probably because I spent a lifetime teaching students about punctuation, word choice, and word placement. I know there is a lot more in this book but I haven’t got to it yet. Personally, the books about the writing business, both writing the books and getting them noticed, grab my attention. Grammar and spelling books, not so much. Not because they don’t seem important, but because that is one area I’ve (dare I say it?) pretty well mastered.
      I am happy that Truss has written her book and that it’s so successful since bad grammar and poor punctuation abound, don’t they, Diane?


      • successbmine

        May 31, 2012 at 2:11 pm

        They do, indeed! Like you, I feel I have mastered punctuation and spelling (and grammar for the most part) well enough that I don’t need a book. I think I was well-taught throughout school on these things. They don’t seem to teach them at all now from what we see today.


  10. mypenandme

    June 1, 2012 at 5:52 pm

    I have nominated you for the Lovely Blog Award. Please refer to my blog. :-)


    • elainecougler

      June 4, 2012 at 9:39 am

      How pleasant! I’ve checked it out and will do it when I can. Thank you so much!



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