Monday, August 11, 2014
My Favorite Writing Books!
In the second half of 2014, I'm running a course called Express Year of the Novel for the Queensland Writers Centre down in Brisbane, the capital city of the state in Australia where I live. For five full days between now and December, I'm working with a bunch of enthusiastic aspiring novelists to help them develop the skills to write a saleable longer piece of fiction.
Putting together the course has had its challenges - five full days is a longish time, but not when you're covering everything a person needs to learn for writing a novel! One of the things I realized as I was designing the program was that I should brush up on some of my writing textbooks, especially when it came to complex subjects like the hero's journey.
So here are my four favorite writing books.
The first is an absolute classic. Dorothea Brande's BECOMING A WRITER has been in print since 1934. I've read it a few times - it's quite short and you can knock it over in a couple of hours. And it never fails to help me with my writing life. It's not a book about the nuts and bolts of writing, it's about how to find motivation and inspiration and how to persist in this odd occupation we've set ourselves to mastering.
The last of my great quartet is Christopher Vogler's THE WRITER'S JOURNEY: MYTHIC STRUCTURE FOR WRITERS. This is a great introduction to how the work of Joseph Campbell and Carl Jung can help strengthen the structure of your novel and give your story a universal appeal. And there are fascinating analyses of popular films like THE LAST OF THE MOHICANS and THE WIZARD OF OZ, drawing on the mythic superstructure that has made these movies into timeless classics.
There are some wonderful books on writing on that list of resources I gave the YOTN class, but if the crunch came, these are the four I'd save from the burning building. If you haven't read them and you're interested in writing either as a writer yourself or as a dedicated reader, give them a go!
If you're a writer, do you have any favorite books that have helped you with your craft? If you're a reader, do you ever read books about writing to give you an insight into the writing process?