Sunday, January 10, 2010

Books on Writing

While this feels some what ironic, there are a fair number of books available on writing. They range in topics from general to genre specific to focusing on one element of writing. Each has it's useful side and a negative one.

Why buy books on writing? While, writing books will never replace the actual act of writing when it comes to a writer's improvement and style, there is a use for the books. The books that focus on one single element of writing are ones that can be useful. There are areas where a writer has strength and an area where they have a weakness. The books can help the areas of weakness and give some items to consider while attempting the techniques. Genre books are useful for getting to know the set factors that are expected in that genre. Most of the genres have some similarities but they also have differences to consider.

Here are a few books on writing to consider.

General fiction writing: Your First Novel by Ann Rittenberg and Laura Whitcomb

This book is divided into two sections, Writing Your Novel and Publishing Your Novel. Both focus on the general aspects of first getting a novel written and then published. While it is a useful book for general information, there aren't enough pages to go into details on the different aspects of writing, along with genres, etc. There is still a ton of information distilled into one book.

Plots: 20 Master Plots and how to build them by Ronald B. Tobias

This book is about exactly what the title says. There are 20 plots presented in the book and it discusses how those plots are built to create different stories. What I like is that the book provides 20 instead of the 6 or so that most claim exist. It does go into enough detail on each plot. However, for those of us that get plenty of book ideas there isn't as much of a need to read on what counts as a plot.

Characters and Viewpoint: Characters, Emotion & Viewpoint by Nancy Kress

As the title suggests, this book focuses on the characters of the novel, how to develop the right main character, what viewpoint to use and how to invoke emotion for said characters. One thing this book does, like many writing books, is that it provides exercises for the writer to attempt. The exercises are nice because it gives the writer a way to develop the skill beyond reading the words on the pages.

Children's Books: The Everything Guide To Writing Children's Books by Lesley Bolton

This is a general books version of a genre topic as the book covers everything from picture books to early readers and beyond. Part of the book is on the writing of the books but the other part is for the publishing/business side. It focuses on making the writing into a career but while it's a big book it has the same problems the generalized fiction writing books have.

Romance: On Writing Romance by Leigh Michaels

I got this book for Christmas. It's interesting but has its flaws. The first section talks about the overall genre and how different publishers have come to be big names like that of Harlequin. Then it goes on to talk about the different elements expected from those writing in the genre. The information works for general romance but it has limited information for those who write on the outskirts of the genre.

Problem of books on writing is that they can get repetitive. You don't want to buy too many because many of them will say the same thing, just in a different way. This is the same for all writing books, however. At some point there isn't anything new to learn on the particular topic.

The tone of the book is important and some will reach to you more than others. Also, the examples presented are based upon what the writer of the book knows, and may often be books you've never read or even heard of. That can be okay but doesn't make the understanding of the topic any easier.

Remember to take what is said in all writing books with a grain of salt. You don't have to do everything the books say to do because there aren't many hard rules in writing. If you find the book says something you don't agree with, that's okay. It's just one book. And you can always break the rules. That is part of the fun in writing.