My friend Suzanne, over at panhandleprofessionalwriters, posted her “Top Ten Book on Writing Everyone Should Read.” If you haven’t stopped by her blog, you should – awesome posts on authors, writing, books, conferences, and other creative writing topics.
Here is her list:
1. The Elements of Style by Strunk and White
2. Bird by Bird: Some Instruction on the Writing Life by Anne Lamott
3. On Writing by Stephen King
4. Zen in the Art of Writing by Ray Bradbury
5. Ernest Hemingway on Writing Edited by Larry W. Phillips
6. The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battle by Steven Pressfield
7. How to Create a Sentence by Stanley Fish
8. How to Read a Book by Mortimer J. Adler and Charles van Doren
10. Word Painting: A Guide to Writing More Descriptively by Rebecca McClanahan
My list matched 6 out of the ten (so far), how about you? Do you have a list?
William C. Knott, in The Craft of Fiction, cogently observes that “anyone can write – and almost everyone you meet these days is writing. However, only the writers know how to rewrite, It is this ability alone that turn the amateur into a pro.” — taken from Writing Fiction, A Guide to Narrative Craft (Burroway and Stuckey-French).
I don’t think Mr. Knott could be any more
write right- because revision, I’m afraid, is a pain in the [____]. It takes an insane amount of determination and dedication; in most cases, it’s fueled by desire and rather than creativity. It is subject to constant battles against procrastination, this post just the latest piece in the onslaught. I remind myself that people, like the three mentioned authors above, have conquered this process before, and so, so can I. Look at the bright side, 80,000 is nothing when it comes to revision!
Creative Writing Revision is an art in its own right. I am right in the middle of this process, and it has been an uphill battle to say the least (if you want to know how I really feel about it, read here). However, I believe that there are some very good resources to arm ourselves with before jumping in with the red pen. These are the books I am currently using, please recommend any others that you have (follow links for reviews)!
- Revising Fiction: Making Sense of the Madness – Kirt Hickman: A systematic approach to revision, covering – Theme, Fictional Worlds, Characters, Plot, Point of View, Setting, First Draft, Research, Organization, Chapter Breaks, Scenes, Emotions, Prose, Dialogue, Formatting, and Critiques. Any out there find anything better?
- How Not to Write a Novel: 200 Classic Mistakes and How to Avoid Them–A Misstep-by-Misstep Guide – Howard Mittelmark and Sandra Newman: Now Not to Write a Novel is not for the faint of heart. It is straight forward, and the bluntness can be rather harsh. But at the end of the day, it is a useful tool if you are serious about getting your manuscript published.
- Solutions for Novelists: Secrets of a Master Editor – Sol Stein: Don’t be fooled by the old school cover design, Sol Stein is awesome and so is his advice. From the perspective an editor, he is candid in reminding writers of their responsibilities towards their audience, and his solutions to common writing errors are brilliant. His tone is heartfelt; he truly wants to improve the quality of your work. Buy and read this book, trust me!
- On Writing: 10th Anniversary Edition: A Memoir of the Craft – Stephen King: This may be a surprise as the book is more of a memoir than a technical approach to writing. I found King’s description of his revision process enlightening – he makes it sound manageable, which makes reading it worth your time and certainly justify’s the space on your writer’s shelf.