Saturday, August 25, 2007

Writer Stuff . . . The Books

Like most new writers, I read a lot of the recommended How to Books: Browne & King's Self-Editing for Fiction Writers, Stein on Writing, Stephen King's On Writing, Jenkin's Writing for the Soul , and a few others including my personal favorite-How to Write Best Selling Fiction by Dean Koontz.

Here are my not so humble opinions.

Stein on Writing is very good, but very advanced. I wouldn't recommend it as the first book a new writer should read. Think fourth or fifth.

Stephen King's On Writing is . . . Did you think I would actually criticize this book. It's not as good as Koontz's, but hey, if Tiger Woods offers to give you a lesson, shut up and listen.

Jerry Jenkin's Writing for the Soul is basically a regurgitation of Koontz's book minus Mr. Jenkins personal stories of course. I'm not criticizing, he admits that he borrowed heavily from Koontz's book. It's definitely worth the read. Mr. Jenkins is very honest and his Christian Writer's Guild conference is fantastic.

Self-Editing . . . is the most highly acclaimed, but I don't share my fellow writer's absolute devotion to this book. Don't get me wrong - It's Good. But, I don't think it's for the true beginner. The first person writing samples were not a good idea.

How to Write Best Selling Fiction by Dean Koontz should be mandatory reading for anyone who writes fiction. Oh how I wish he would write a new edition. It is entertaining, presented in an easy to understand fashion, and surprisingly encouraging to new writers. Mr. Koontz believes that if you're willing to learn and work hard -- you can do it. For some reason, it is extremely hard to find, but it will be well worth your efforts. I purchased a used First Edition on Amazon for $85, which is the cheapest I could find. Some sell for as high as $249. Don't want to spend the money? Check out your local library. You will not be disappointed.

For the true beginner, try:
You can Write a Novel by James V. Smith, Jr. I couldn't use the incredibly organized system he details in the book, but that's just me. I'm sure it would help most. The only drawback: he doesn't warn newbies about head-hopping.

Ready to pitch? Try
The Sell Your Novel Took Kit by Elizabeth Lyon and Your Novel Proposal: From Creation to Contract by Blythe Camenson and Marshall J. Cook.

Can anyone recommend one I haven't read?


Janet Rubin said...

I have a massive stack of these. I don't read them, but I like the way they look by my desk (and my toilet.) Gives the place a writerly aire. The only ones I could ever stand reading were King's and one by Anne Lamott called Bird by Bird (the best thing I got out of that was, "give yourself permission to write a shitty first draft." sort of like King's writing the first draft "with the door closed.") Anyway, I will consider reading, or at least owning, Koontz's book since you so highly recommend it:)

Dayle James Arceneaux said...

I never considered the aesthetic appeal of having these around.

Now that you mention it, I do feel a little of that elitist writerly aire. I'm gonna have to get me a smoking jacket and a pipe.

donna fleisher said...

Hmm. I could use some of that writerly aire. If I buy a few how-to books, do I have to read them?

(Dayle, I can just picture you in a smoking jacket with a pipe dangling 'tween your teeth.) ; )

Dayle James Arceneaux said...

According to Janet, you don't have to read them. Just skim them so you can give uppity remarks of how wrong they are. That adds to that writerly aire.

Also, use the words drivel and jibberish when referring to other writer's works. And, it helps if you can develope a stuffy british accent or talk like Thurston Howell III.

Janet Rubin said...

If you want to look like a writer, just sit there clicking "check mail," repeatedly for the majority of the day. Pause now and then to refill coffee. Gaze out the window for long periods of time. Be well known at your local libary for racking up late fines. Don't forget to occasionally dust the stack of how-to books so they look used. Maybe dog-ear some pages... And least once a year, go to a writers conference. You can discuss whatever you thought about while staring out the window with other writers.

Dayle James Arceneaux said...

Janet, are you spying on me? Or, do you dabble in the dark arts?

How did you know all that?

Well, it's been a few minutes, I better check my e-mail. gotta go!

Janet Rubin said...

Weeeellll... I HAVE been reading a lot of Harry Potter lately...

Actually, it's just the old takes-one-to-know-one principle:)

Dayle James Arceneaux said...

From the House of Slytherin, I see.

Tell your friend, Snape. I said hello.