Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Five Favorite Books on Writing (Blogathon Theme Day)

Just listing books on writing is easy. Asking me to pick the top five? Not so much. So I don't want to call these top five, but they are books I think every writer would enjoy.

1. Telling Lies for Fun and Profit by Lawrence Block. This was one of the first books I ever read when I started writing. I think I really wanted to be a novelist over a non-fiction journalist, but writing for magazines and papers paid. This book is on my mind today because it came up in a Facebook thread--I mentioned it, got the author wrong and had to pull it down from the shelf. Now I'll be re-reading it.

2. Ditto for this book by William Goldman, Which Lie Did I Tell: More Adventures in the Screen Trade. I also read Adventures in the Screen Trade. He writes about what it takes to write great scenes for movies. Both of those books are great reads (see, I just gave you two for one with this listing).

3. Stephen King On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft. I love this because he approaches it as craft. Hone the craft: write.

4. A Writer's Coach--Okay, this is on the top of my "to read" pile. By Jack Hart. When it came out it got rave reviews and I couldn't resist buying it--"An editor's guide to words that work." It's described as Jack Hart coaching us to write well--"gathering ideas, writing theme statements and outlines, and using the 'ladder of abstraction' to add variety and texture to writing." When you write alone without an editor to bounce your pieces off of, this kind of advice helps.

5. The book I have gone back to time and again is The Well-fed Writer by Peter Bowerman. Perhaps it is not for the creative non-fiction assignments,  but is definitely about getting work. And in the end, that is what making a living doing this is about. Get work. Get good work. But it takes work to get that work, and Bowerman shares all his "secrets" in this book.

Ed. Note: I meant to add this: The other best books on writing are well? Read great authors. In no particular order, some of my faves: Rumer Godden (her novels AND her children's books), Mary Wesley, who started writing when she was in her 70s, IIRC; Alexander McCall Smith (delicate and lovely and funny), Bill Watterson (oh, yes I did just list the author of Calvin and Hobbes. Talk about great, short writing!)--hmm. My faves are all fiction authors. I think I'd better write some fiction. Soon.

(There are a few theme days during the blogathon--this was one of them...I could have tied it back to cooking, but I think I'll save that for another post.)


Anonymous said...

Great list! I'll have to check some of those out!

Jennifer Willis said...

Stephen King's "On Writing" is an excellent choice in books for writers. When asked, I will recommend a handful of books to aspiring writers, and this one is always on the list.

Anjuli said...

Great list- I've read two of these- and now I need to read the other three :)

Jennifer Woodard said...


When I was doing more commercial writing "The Well Fed Books" were a great deal of help to me.

Great list.

Happy blogging,

Unknown said...

I've never read #s 1, 2 and 4. Going to have to go look for them now. Thanks, Barb.

Tia Bach said...

LOVE the picture! So visually representative of your list. Bravo! And a great list to boot!

Nicole said...

Stephen King's book seems to be very popular among a lot of writers. I read about it some time ago but never checked it out.

I am interested in reading the Well Fed Writer though and did not know anything about that Screen Trade book. That may come in handy since I am trying to make my first feature film, hopefully this year so I can have something else to show other than short films.

I am so going to look for that "Which Lie Did I Tell" book the next time I'm shopping add to my movie making collection!

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