Is it too ambitious for a blog post to cover the entire subject of writing? Yes, yes it is which is why this post is actually about writing how-to books. Specifically these two:
Now I’ve read a few guides about writing as I’m sure you have too, but I only actually own two. If you want a bit of knowledge, a good read and possibly a present for any writers you may know, these are my recommendations.
Let me start with a confession – I’ve seen lots of Stephen King TV and film adaptations, but I haven’t read a lot of his books. I’ve read a number of his shorter works, such as The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon but I’ve never been drawn to his weightier tomes and personally, I think his better works are his shorter ones anyway.
So how did I come to own his guide to writing? Basically, I bought it on a whim, off the back of a number of good reviews. And I am very glad I did. It’s actually more of an autobiography, with a writing guide thrown in, as King recounts his childhood and early struggles as well as his later battles with addiction and near fatal accident. He weaves advice for creating a writing ‘toolbox’ into this narrative and his early years as a teacher come to the fore as he talks about what he has learned over the years. The language is simple but intelligent and often humorous – note his observation after his accident that he had ‘nearly been killed by a character right out of one of my own novels’.
Whether you like King’s work or not, I recommend this book. It provides excellent advice and is also a darn good read.
How to stand out in the world of how-tos? Write a how-not-to. I like this book for three main reasons:
- The cover – I believe the advice is ‘don’t start your book by shooting a kitten.’
- The humour – the examples are stupidly over the top, but this just means you remember them.
- The way it made me re-assess my work – I may have made a few of these errors myself (ahem). This book helped me identify them and rub them out. My work is, I hope, all the better for it.
I actually got this book as a Christmas present last year, but I already had a copy which just shows you how good it is!
So my fellow writers, what about you? Do you have a well-worn guide you always come back to?
*may not be an actual guide to writing