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Welcome to day one of the 3-2-1 Write party! Today [we shall have] the spotlight shining on our favorite books about writing. I’m sharing with you my top three favorites, the books that influenced me the most when I became serious about writing fiction.
I don’t read a lot of reference books on writing anymore, though there was a time I devoured them. Nowadays I graze on blog posts and web articles. But I have various titles on my to-read shelf, so I’m certainly not done with gleaning the vast amount of wisdom that’s out there. Besides being great tutors, most how-to-write books inspire me and urge me on to write, whether or not I need to apply what I’ve read to my current novel at the moment.
So here’s my un-ordered list:
- Fiction Writer’s Handbook by Hallie and Whit Burnett. This was one of the first books on writing fiction I ever read. Thus, though it may not have a lot of unique information, it shaped my understanding of the craft of fiction, teaching me what does and does not work when telling a story of any length – short story, novel, novella. It’s very thorough and well organized, divided into seven sections which have their own chapters. Whit and Hallie Burnett were influential American writers, editors, and writing teachers of the mid-twentieth century.
- Self-Editing for Fiction Writers: How to Edit Yourself into Print by Renni Browne and Dave King. I read this book right before I published my first novel, Family Reunion. Goodness, was it a book-saver! I tend to include way too much information in my works-in-progress; Self-Editing helped me realize what wasn’t needed in my manuscript, offering the valuable insight that less is often more when it comes to writing a story. For example, don’t use two words when one will do better, and don’t include scenes that provide information that’s already been given. This book also helped me refine my narration style, such as telling the story through what my POV character experiences. This is a book I definitely should reread, as first-draft writing habits are hard to break. (Note: I did not appreciate some of the language and examples used.)
- There was a mad scramble for this spot. I wish I could include several books here, but I’ll award it to Behind the Stories, compiled by Diane Eble. This book inspired me so much. Eble interviewed dozens of Christian fiction authors – including such greats as Janette Oke, Gilbert Morris, Randy Alcorn, and Jan Karon – and collected their honest stories of how they were called to start writing, how they got published, how they deal with fear and other emotions, and how they strive to honor God through their writing. This book doesn’t contain a lot of technical information, but it includes wonderful tidbits of advice for Christian writers, and for Christians in general as we all seek to please the Lord with our lives. My copy is particularly special to me because I had it signed by Bodie Thoene, my favorite author in the collection.
What are your favorite books on writing?
Don’t go yet before you’ve entered the grand prize giveaway! Here is the link, and here’s what it contains:
Paper copy of The Emotion Thesaurus
$5.00 Amazon Gift Card
Free Cover Design by Victoria Lynn$30 Blog Tour Orchestration by Faith Blum
Free Edit of up to 5000 words by Erika Mathews
The Emotion Thesaurus may very well become your favorite book on writing (I’m planning on getting a copy myself; it sounds amazingly helpful!).
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