Tuesday, October 28, 2008

My Favorite Writing Reference Books. . . So Far

It's hard to know which books to choose from the thousands of writing reference books available. As far as fiction writing is concerned, these are my favorites so far.



  • Immediate Fiction: A Complete Writing Course by Jerry Cleaver-I love this book. Mr. Cleaver lets you know right up front that writing is an acquired skill. If you can't sit at the computer and have perfectly plotted, perfectly formed manuscripts pour from the tips of your fingers that's okay. My favorite quote: "Letting yourself be bad is the best way to become good."
  • Fiction Writer's Brainstormer by James V. Smith, Jr.-James has great insights into the novel writing process. He revealed things that I'd never read anywhere else. And I've read a lot. James will take you through the process from choosing a salable idea to readability to submission.
  • Writing Realistic Dialogue and Flash Fiction by Harvey Stanbrough- This book is an absolute must for fine tuning your dialogue. It'll also help keep your writing concise.
  • Fiction Writing Demystified: Techniques That Will Make You a More Successful Writer by Thomas B. Sawyer.- Tom wrote many episodes of the popular series Murder She Wrote. He brings his experience as a screenwriter to fiction writing. If you want to know how to keep your reader turning pages, Tom will let you in on his secrets.
  • The Marshall Plan for Novel Writing by Evan Marshall- Evan will give you all the information you need to know about how to structure a novel. He is after all an agent and an author so he should know what he's talking about.
  • First Draft in 30 Days by Karen Wiesner- This book doesn't show you how to complete a manuscript in 30 days but it does show you how to outline and organize a novel in that amount of time. In addition, she reveals her method for planning your writing career. Excellent resource!
  • Hooked: Write Fiction That Grabs Readers at Page One & Never Lets Them Go by Les Edgerton-This well written book will strike a chord with every writer. Les tells it like it is in a down to earth tone. It feels as if he's sharing this information with a friend over coffee. When you get ready to get real, the you need to pick up a copy of this book.
  • Don't Murder Your Mystery [Agatha Award for Best Nonfiction Book] by Chris Roerden- Chris will walk you through all the mistakes that many writers make the first time out. If you want to produce a salable piece of fiction, mystery or not, this is a book that bears reading.

Like I said, this is the list so far. I find new ones all the time but these are the ones I've found most helpful. Leave me a comment and let me know what you're using. Who knows? You may have one that I need to add to the list.

1 comment:

Chris Roerden said...

Mary Ann:
Thanks so much for recommending DON'T MURDER YOUR MYSTERY. There's a new edition of this book for writers in all genres, not just mystery: DON'T SABOTAGE YOUR SUBMISSION--and not only for first-timers. Charlaine Harris (of Sookie Stackhouse fame) writes "Even seasoned writers could use a copy as a refresher course." No less than best-sellers Margaret Maron and PJ Parrish say they've learned useful information (maybe because I've been an editor for more than 44 years in publishing).
Thank you for your support,
Chris Roerden, www.snurl.com/25as7