As I wrap up the year here at The Backstory Cafe I am surrounded by stacks of books, piles of magazines, and a bulletin board full of Very Important Writer Things. I have been studying fiction, novel structuring, and author platforming recently, and it shows in the books that sit closest to my reach. Not every book around this desk has turned out to be useful, but there are a few standouts, all purchased in 2013:
1) The Scene Book by Sandra Scofield. This book really reinforced the scene writing class I took with award-winning author Susan Pohlman this year. If you write fiction or memoir, you’ll need to craft strong scenes. If you can, come to Scottsdale and take a class with Susan (information at her website!). If you can’t take a scene writing class in person, buy this book.
2) Blueprint Your Bestseller by Stuart Horwitz. This book walks us writers through the process of examining a novel or memoir draft and organizing all of our pretty and not-so-pretty prose so the next draft sings like a lark. I used the architecture technique taught here when I thought I had written the last draft of my latest book (which I hadn’t, it turned out), but the author recommends breaking open this book and working through the exercises right after your first draft. I plan to do that next time.
3) Wired for Story by Lisa Cron. I love to study brain science and writing techniques. This book combines them both! The author shows us writers the way our readers interpret stories, what they crave (brain wise), and how to make sure they have a satisfying read. Good stuff.
4) The Art and Craft of Story by Victoria Mixon. I am a huge fan of editor Victoria Mixon’s blog, and now I’m a fan of her books. This is the funniest and most honest manual about the craft of storytelling that I’ve read so far. My copy is underlined and dog-eared.
What writing books have helped you this year? I’d love any recommendations!