Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Books on Writing - Day 1

There are many places where lists of books on writing can be found. However, it is nice to have books recommended by people, even apart from Amazon reviews. I've benefited from different perspectives, and I've read books that didn't really help me in growth as a writer.

I know I'm really new at this game, but I think a little dialogue on good writing books never hurts.


The most recent book I've read on the subject of writing is Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Renni Browne and Dave King. This book had been mentioned a lot as far as "must-read" books on the subject. I think seeing it featured at the site Where the Map Ends by editor Jeff Gerke sealed it for me as far as buying it.

It was a very good purchase. The book focuses on 12 different aspects of fiction, from the perennial writing advise to "show, not tell" to POV, dialogue, and voice. It came across as easily understood, yet I found myself reading a chapter and waiting a day or two to read more, so I could digest what was shared.

After reading several books on a subject, you start to glean less and less as material is repeated (unless repeated in a good way). Self-Editing does bring out aspects of these topics that are fresh or a good reminder of how to do things right. There were also concepts I hadn't come across before. For example, with POV I understood first person, third person close, and third person omniscient. However, they describe a technique of starting omniscient at the beginning of a scene but moving into a close perspective at the end. It sounds like a powerful tool that could be used to bring a scene more life - I'm just not sure if I'm ready to pull it off well yet!

There are exercises that one can take advantage of (reading on a bus doesn't always lend itself to using them). Overall, this is a very helpful book that I think helped a lot with understanding the whole process of editing a work myself, sharpening it as best I can. It definitely is for someone who understands the basics of characterization, plot, etc.


  1. I'm not going to lie man, I am very wary of books on writing. Usually the guys who write them have never had anything published other than the book on writing I was reading. I noticed that to be a huge indiscrepancy. Though there are many who are widely published like Stephen Dobyns or Ted Berrigan.

  2. Definitely wisdom is needed, as there are books out there as you describe. It's a point to bring out as I discuss the books.

    Specifically, "Self-Editing" is written by editors, so it is meant to be a different viewpoint, and I think that works.

    I don't intend to be an apologist for these books, just to start the discussion. And for being the first to discuss (and for the insight), I thank you sir!