Monday, August 13, 2012

Books on writing books

I'm not usually a big fan of books on writing. Not that they don't have great stuff. Unfortunately, too many writers fall into this pit of 'This works for me and it must also work for you so do it this way' doom. The book that is supposed to help writers becomes a mini-documentary in book form of how this particular author writes a book. Interesting, yes; educational, not always.

Self-Editing for Fiction Writers

I have found a few exceptions to this. One of them, which I found early on in my writing journey (thank goodness), is Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Dave King and Renni Browne. This book rocks in all kinds of ways, but mostly for teaching me that the dialogue tag is not the place to get fancy. I cut out a bunch of "he shouted angrily" when I learned that one.

This past weekend I had the amazing experience of reading not one, but two craft books that really hit home for me in different ways. I was hoping to learn a few new things and instead I have a whole new perspective on how to approach my writing.



The first of these is one that's been in my TBR pile for a while. I used Blake Snyder's beat sheet for plotting WIP3 based off the information on his really helpful website www.blakesnyder.com.

I was really hoping to get a little more insight into using the beat sheet by reading his book Save the Cat. What I got, was a ton more insight and a lot of Aha! moments where I realized not only that my current manuscripts have issues, but where they are, why they happen, and how to fix them. Priceless.

Save The Cat

The crazy thing about this book is that it is actually written for screenwriters. However, a story is a story whether it's told between the pages of a book or on the silver screen. All of Snyder's advice applies to writing a novel. Really, the only difference is that the average script is just over a hundred pages and the average novel hits about three times that many. Just multiply all those 'must hit' pages by three and everything still applies.

I plan to 'beat out' WIP1 today (you know, the one that was done but won't leave me alone). I can't wait to see what it looks like. Finding the black holes should help me to finally get this WIP to the place it needs to be not just a good book, but a great one. I'm also hoping once I know how to fix it, I'll be able to set it aside for a while and work on some other stuff.

I know I said there are two great books, but they each deserve their own post. I'll tell you all about the next one later. For now, go get Save the Cat!

8 comments:

  1. I've heard amazing things about Save the Cat. I haven't read a craft book in a while. Maybe I should.

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    1. It's definitely going to be one of those books that I refer back to whenever I'm starting a new project. It's full of simple things that you may be doing all ready (because they work) but never knew why.

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  2. Thanks for the suggestions. I need new resources for the library!

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  3. I've heard good things about Save The Cat as well. After your post - which also worked as a reminder - I ordered it on amazon. :)
    Thanks for the suggestion - and reminder :)

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    1. Fun, fun. Let me know what you think once you've read it.

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  4. I need to order it. I like to think of myself as a work-in-progress as a writer.

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    1. Oh, Ednah. Aren't we all just one great big WIP? :)

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