Whenever I come across a list of must read writing books, I skim through it to see what I might discover. So it’s not surprise I clicked through to read the list Terri Frank composed for a DIY MFA blog post.
When asked a variety of questions, the librarians queried each recommended a book. Here is their 6 item list along with some commentary from yours truly.
Writer’s Market 2018 was recommended as a get started writing book. I have to admit that surprised me. I would definitely recommend it to the writer who has several manuscripts under their belt and is ready to seek out an agent or editor, but a newbie? I’m not so sure about that. I do have my copy so don’t think I’m dissing it. I’d just need to know what the newbie wanted to write before I made a recommendation.
No Plot? No Problem! Revised and Expanded Edition: A Low Stress,High-Velocity Guide to Writing a Novel in 30 Days by Chris Baty was recommended for a writer who is prepping for NaNoWriMo.
Literary Market Place was the suggestion for a writer with a technical manual to sell.
The Seven Basic Plots by Christopher Booker was recommended for the author who failed to connect with their plot. I don’t know this book but I’m wondering how similar it is to Plot by Ansen Dibell which I have on my shelf.
Storycraft: The Complete Guide to Writing Narrative Nonfiction by Jack Hart was recommended for someone who plans to write a memoire. I have to admit that I’m not madly in love with memoire but I’ve yet to find a nonfiction how-to that I love so I’ve requested this from my library. I keep them very busy.
The Thirty-Six Dramatic Situations by Mike Figgis is the book the librarian will be reading. Wish my library had this one but they don’t so I may have to ILL it. Like I said, I believe in providing job security for the local library staff.
So what 6 books would I recommend?
The Book: The Essential Guide to Publishing for Children. This SCBWI book is a compilation of their market guides and other handy references tools. Honestly, I use this more than I use Writer’s Market because it specializes in children’s markets.
Writing Picture Books by Ann Whitford Paul is the go-to book for anyone who wants to write picture books. She analyzes the form, provides tons of information on the language and so much more. Honestly, I try to find time to look through this every time I start a picture book project.
Novel Metamorphosis by Darcy Pattison. This book is all about rewriting your novel. It is a workshop in book form and if you follow it you will come out with a much better manuscript. I mean it. This is one every children’s novelist should own.
The Emotion Thesaurus by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi. This is an essential book for someone who wants to have their anxious character do more than chew on his lip or wring her hands. A great reference tool for emotions across the board and all types of characters.
Picture This: How Pictures Work by Molly Bang is a how to that gives information on how the illustrations in a picture book convey emotion, lead the reader through the story, and more. Read this one for a better understanding of how illustrations function.
The Plot Whisperer by Martha Alderson. This is a great book for studying plot structure – the ups, the downs and how they all come together for a satisfying story. A great tool for troubleshooting pacing and figuring out what isn’t quite working on your novel.
Hopefully between the DIY MFA list and my list, you’ll find something new to inspire your writing. After all, we all need a little nudge every now and again.