Books on Writing for Any Writer's Bookshelf (February 2009)

Add these great books on writing to your bookshelf for reference. . by Margaret Russo
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This Year You Write Your Novel
by Walter Mosley
(Little, Brown)

Every morning, for at least three hours, Walter Mosley writes. And for this author of 25 books, including Devil in a Blue Dress, such a daily habit is imperative to his success. With his humble, no-nonsense tone, Mosley outlines more practical tips in This Year You Write Your Novel. Mosley stresses the importance of choosing the right narrative voice, the necessity of rewriting and the merits of using a voice recorder. “A tape recording of your book will do more than help with the will-o’-the-wisp musicality of the piece,” he writes. “It’ll also help you see things that you missed while rereading silently.” Use it to hear the rhythm of your fiction and watch how it will improve your writing (and orating) skills.

The Scene Book: A Primer for the Fiction Writer
by Sandra Scofield
(Penguin Books)

A woman stands, arms crossed, in front of a car parked in a driveway. The trunk of the car is open. She’s close to tears. A man walks out of the garage, carrying a large box, which he throws into the trunk. For author Sandra Scofield, writing small scenes such as this one is the first step to writing effective fiction. Using excerpts from her own and other authors’ works as examples, Scofield details specific scene tips in each chapter of The Scene Book, from “The Focal Point” and “Tension” to “Big Scenes.” She also includes exercises at the end of every chapter to help spark creativity within your writing. Scofield’s voice speaks from experience: “You may very well need to write more than will end up in your polished book. Don’t feel self-conscious of that. The writing that doesn’t show up later may have the path you had to clear to get to the story. All of us have our times of writing too little or too much.” Also, be sure to check out the self-evaluation templates. These questions and checklists for the writing (and rewriting) of a scene are both useful and inspiring for any fictional work.

By Cunning & Craft

by Peter Selgin
(Writer’s Digest Books)

In this concise and carefully composed book, author Peter Selgin promises “sound advice and practical wisdom for fiction writers.” He does so by applying a casual yet authoritative tone about all matters of writing, from getting to know your characters to developing the story around them, completing the tale and publishing it. “To produce a work of art,” Selgin writes, “technique must also be brought to bear. When instinct and technique merge seamlessly, I call the result cunning. Cunning: ‘skillful ingenuity in doing something.’ That said, I’m not going to teach you how to write. I’m going to teach you how to look at what you’ve already written, to see it for what it really is, and—if it isn’t already publishable—help you make it so.” By Cunning & Craft uses unconventional tips (e.g., when revising, write your story from scratch to see if you like the new draft more than the original), helpful quotes and anecdotes from other well-known writers to achieve a book that, in a manner both crafty and cunning, really helps you write.

Also Of Note:
How to Write Fiction (And Think About It)
by Robert Graham
(Palgrave Macmillan)

From detailed exercises (look at photographs of people from newspapers or catalogues and define their expressions, names and stories) to short “writing bursts” (use imagination-stimulating phrases as 10-minute writing drills), How to Write Fiction is sure to cure any case of writer’s block. Get ready to jumpstart your creativity and start scribbling.

Poetic Forms

Rannaigecht Mor Gairit: Poetic Forms

Poetic Form Fridays are made to share various poetic forms. This week, we look at the rannaigecht mor gairit, a variant form of the rannaigecht.

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The Writer, The Inner Critic, & The Slacker

Author and writing professor Alexander Weinstein explains the three parts of a writer's psyche, how they can work against the writer, and how to utilize them for success.

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Todd Stottlemyre: On Mixing and Bending Genres

Author Todd Stottlemyre explains how he combined fiction and nonfiction in his latest book and what it meant as a writer to share his personal experiences.

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Plot Twist Story Prompts: Take a Trip

Every good story needs a nice (or not so nice) turn or two to keep it interesting. This week, have a character take a trip somewhere.

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Making the Switch from Romance to Women’s Fiction

In this article, author Jennifer Probst explains the differences between romance and women's fiction, the importance of both, and how you can make the genre switch.

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Stephanie Wrobel: On Writing an Unusual Hero

Author Stephanie Wrobel explains how she came to write about mental illness and how it affects familial relationships, as well as getting inside the head of an unusual character.

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Who Are the Inaugural Poets for United States Presidents?

Here is a list of the inaugural poets for United States Presidential Inauguration Days from Robert Frost to Amanda Gorman. This post also touches on who an inaugural poet is and which presidents have had them at their inaugurations.

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Precedent vs. President (Grammar Rules)

Learn when to use precedent vs. president with Grammar Rules from the Writer's Digest editors, including a few examples of correct usages.

Poetry Prompt

Wednesday Poetry Prompts: 554

Every Wednesday, Robert Lee Brewer shares a prompt and an example poem to get things started on the Poetic Asides blog. This week, write a future poem.