I have a pretty extensive collection of books on the craft of writing. Not exhaustive by any stretch, but I have quite a few. At the recommendation of writer friends, I recently picked up two that I think are noteworthy.
The first one is a short (80 pages), but very useful book on editing, “Dunne with Editing, A Last Look at Your Manuscript” by Nann Dunne. Its focus is primarily on copy editing. The content is broken up into eighteen clear concise chapters that detail one part of the editing process. in addition, the author gives understandable examples showing before and after editing samples.
The book acts like an editing checklist. Chapters include the usual topics like spelling, passive voice and overused words. It also includes topics on participial clauses, dialogue punctuation, attribution tags, and the Burly Detective Syndrome. Am actual checklist is included in the appendices. As is a sampling of overused words and prepositions. the final appendices include short discussions on novel planning and structure as well as story arcs.
If you are looking for a ‘quick and dirty’ copy editing book to remind you of the little things and some big things to look at once you get past that first draft and before you pay for a professional to formally edit your MS, Then I would recommend adding this little gem to your craft library.
The second book is “Nail Your Novel – Why writers abandon books and how you can draft, fix, and finish with confidence” by Roz Morris.
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If you are a writer who has ever stumbled, fallen down, and/or quit working on a project, You MUST read this book. If you are just starting out and are looking for one book to HELP you get from idea to finished work. You SHOULD read this book before you put 60,000 words on the computer and find you don’t know where to go next.
Plans scare some writers. So, I will use the term method to describe what this book is about. The author lays out a method that takes the writer through a process of writing, rewriting, and polishing a story from start to finish. She begins by providing an index to resources for each topic that she will cover. That way if you are having trouble with scene structure, you can easily find it in the beginning of the book and go right to the section on Card Shuffling. In addition, she includes games, tricks, techniques and rescue remedies to help the writer walk through the method and finish their manuscript.
The author does a great job of summarizing each chapter and reminding the writer what they should be trying to get right during each stage of the novel-writing process and what the inner critic should or should not be doing. Her thumbnail tips throughout the chapters reinforce the method in simple language. The tools she recommends, including storyboard card shuffling and beat sheets, are tried and true and most important, they work.
Another positive is that this is not a three-inch thick tome that will take you a month to work through. At 175 pages, it is concise and just the sort of book you can keep close to your computer to quickly find what you need. If the book is not enough for you. Or, if you are like me and you have follow-up questions, the author’s blog site, ‘Nail Your Novel’ is full of additional advice and tips.
Both of these books now sit on the shelf closest to my writing desk, Both have numerous post-it flags attached at critical chapters. I’m not saying that these are the only books on writing craft you should own. What I am saying is my recommendation would be to add them to your collection. I know they will get lots of use.