Recommended Reading – Part 1

One week ago, I followed up my request for book titles here on the blog with a request for titles for writers. I specifically asked people to recommend books that they’ve used in their courses, and that request was answered with a flood of titles that I intend to peruse over the next year. While I can reserve some of those books through the campus library at the dayjob, I would rather have these titles so I can keep them as part of my collection and reference them as I work through more short stories and novels.

I’ve mentioned it before, but when it comes to writing and narration, I’ve not had any formal training. The two writing courses I took in college were technical in nature (Scientific & Technical Communication and Technical Editing) and the closest I got to any formal theatre or speech instruction came via community theatre and a lovely, patient director named Sandra. I’ve been very lucky to write with the Secret World Chronicle crew; Misty, Dennis, and Cody don’t pull punches when it comes to characters, plot, and the writing process. And yet, I want to learn more.

I’m an academic. I can’t help myself, I love learning about the process and what goes into the creation of things. In fact, it’s often too easy for me to focus on the learning and not progress. So, now that I have a work with which to progress, I can apply what I read to the work through the editing process.

So, the titles recommended are as follows:
Sometimes the Magic Works by Terry Brooks
Don’t Murder Your Mystery by Chris Roerden
Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg
The Kick-Ass Writer by Chuck Wendig
One Continuous Mistake by Gail Sher
The Writer’s Journey: Mythic Structure by Christopher Vogler
Story Engineering by Larry Brooks
Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Renni Browne & Dave King
On Writing by Stephen King
The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron
Zen of Writing by Ray Bradbury
Writing Magic: Creating Stories that Fly by Gail Carson Levine
Save the Cat by Blake Snyder

Now, where to start? Well, I lucked out with The Artist’s Way since there’s a copy at the campus library. I checked it out and started with the introduction and the first chapter. This is the book that uses morning pages as the beginning step for embarking on a journey toward a more creative mindset. Much of the introduction involves the act of giving oneself permission to be creative and acknowledging that it is an necessary part of our lives as artists. At this point, writing three pages longhand every day, especially in the morning, is a challenge. Writing to clear my mind and organize my thoughts has helped with working through some of the current plotholes in Hollow, and it does help to put the day’s challenges and projects into perspective. At the same time, it is another hour on top of the other hours for recording, exercise, dinner prep, and the other daily writing that I do that goes toward my count for the Magic Spreadsheet. Since those morning pages are mostly stream of consciousness writing, I’m not counting those as part of the wordcount. But, given the size of my handwriting and my average from transcription, it’s probably adding somewhere between 1000 and 1300 words. So, there are pros and cons to it. I imagine that the practice will be useful in thinking through the details of the dissertation proposal, but the challenge will be making time for the pages during the day.

I picked up three more of the listed titles for reading. I’ve got “Sometimes the Magic Works,” “One Continuous Mistake,” and “Self-Editing for Fiction Writers” loaded onto my e-reader for the next month or so. When I read these kinds of books, I tend to read them twice. The first time, I skim. The second time, I read like a textbook and take notes. Again, blame the academic in me. I’ll use some later posts to talk about the books and what I’ve learned (because summary and revision is wonderful for cementing all the important stuff in one’s grey matter).

I’ve already done this with two books about writing. The first is King’s On Writing, and the second is Nancy Kress’ “Beginnings, Middles, and Ends.” I’ve owned a copy of “Save the Cat” by Blake Snyder for years, but it’s probably time to crack that open and use it to work through Hollow and troubleshoot the difficult areas. There are always character, plot, and pacing issues that I need to resolve, and I don’t want to simply rely upon beta readers to point those out.

It’s like a marathon; you could start just by running a little every day to improve endurance, but if you follow a proven regimen that helps to target your weak points while improving how you run, you’re going to progress much more quickly.

Let’s face it, writing is a marathon. Gotta approach it with that long-term mindset.

This entry was posted on Thursday, July 24th, 2014 at 8:12 pm and is filed under writing. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

One Response to “Recommended Reading – Part 1”

  1. Anne Elizabeth Baldwin Says:

    I hope these help. It does sound like you have a fair selection, so some should. {Smile}

    Just… don’t be afraid to set one aside if it really doesn’t work for you. There are many approaches to writing that work for some people. There’s no approach to writing that works for every person. And there are certainly approaches to writing that just don’t work together. {Smile}

    (And I’m sorry it took me this long to answer. Too many distractions this week. {rueful smile}

    Anne Elizabeth Baldwin