Sep 11, 2015
Bookish Freedom Friday: Writing Books and Course(s)
I never studied my craft while writing in high school, I never read books on the subject of writing. I felt if I read someone else's opinion on how to write a book, create a character, plot a story, I could not genuinely write, create, or plot my own. So I simply read stories and watched movies, gleaning from them creative inspiration.
All through high school I wrote on the plateau of amateur writer. I was content to be so, I did not feel I needed to go up any higher. I knew of course someday I would, but I was content, too, to let that day come on its own . . . until someone's book came along, or someone's amazing movie, that made me take a step back and say, "Whoa. Why can't I write like that? Why can't I tell a good story like that one?" And I'd scramble around for days searching for an elusive something that would make me better.
Study your craft. Write every day. Read. This is what makes you a better writer.
I have found several books that are at my elbow for always:
One Year Adventure Novel(OYAN) - Highschool Course by Daniel Schwabauer
My parents bought this for me in high school because my mom is an awesome homeschooling mom who saw my love of writing, and this course helped me "really get it" about writing. For the first time I felt like I knew how to write a story. It teaches story structure, fundamentals, writing theme, how to build a character, and so much more. At the end of each year there is a contest where you can submit your written novel.
Structuring Your Novel, by K.M. Weiland
It's like OYAN for adults. I felt like this book delved even further into everything I learned from OYAN. Plus the marvelous examples at the end of each chapter demonstrating the techniques discussed previously are amazing. Seeing these techniques in action were life savers.
Bird by Bird, by Anne Lamott
Though sometimes a little too crude for me, Anne Lamott knows just what it means to be a writer. She describes every struggle I ever had in ways that suddenly make a light bulb snap on and I'm singing the "That's what I've always thought!" song. To me knowing I was not alone in this struggle made me feel more like a writer.
Write Your Novel From the Middle, James Scott Bell
Many times I struggled with theme, I worried about what it was whether or not I should try harder while writing to make it clear, whether or not it would just shift itself out through the pages. Something clicked when I read this book. I figured out if I knew what the Midpoint Mirror Moment was going to be for my character then I didn't need to worry about anything else.
The Emotion Thesaurus, by Angela Ackerman & Becca Puglisi
I love this book because to me writing IS showing! Being able to pull this book out whenever I'm stuck on trying to convey an emotion without simply telling "He was angry" saves me tons of grief and pain, stirs the inner creative cauldrons, and keeps from going crazy. Books like these help save you from Writer's Block, too.
Self-Editing For Fiction Writers, by Renni Browne & Dave King
I haven't used this a whole lot, but just reading about editing and how to edit and what editor's look for has helped me to improve how I write and how I look at editing. The checklists at the end of each chapter gives a quick overview of what you just learned and how to apply it.
Still Writing, by Dani Shapiro
I'm still reading this one, but reading about Dani and her writing life has helped me lift the burden of trying to be like other writers off my sense of worth. Listening to her back story is like reading a novel and leaves me with provoking thoughts about the lives of other people.
And that's the gist of my writing reading. Not to mention the amazing material on the internet these days.
I'm looking for a good time to read Write Tight, by William Brohaugh, and finish reading On Writing Well, by William Zinsser, too. I suppose I'll get to those when I've run myself off this plateau of feeling I have enough at the moment. The next time I'm hit with a good bout of self-doubt and the "not-good-enough" syndrome I'll let you know what I think of these books.
K.M. Updike writes young adult and historical fiction and has a frustrating fascination with fantasies that gets in the way a lot. She is the author of the young adult historical fiction novelette, The Life and Death of Terry Dodd. A lover of books and prairies, she lives with her five siblings and inspiring parents in the wilds of the Great Plains. Besides reading books and writing stories, she loves watching old movies and drinking tea in her basement room dubbed "Mole End."