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Thursday, 6 June 2013

Four books on writing that go beyond the basics

Like all writers, I love my craft. Many writing books are aimed at beginners and often give more experienced writers the same information re-packaged. As a writer who is already published you might think that I don't need to read any 'how to' books about writing, but actually the more I write the more interested I get in the subtle nuts and bolts of how storytelling works, and the more I admire other writers who do it differently.

If like me, you want to increase the subtlety in your work then I can recommend the following books. None of them is written by a writer I know, and none of them is about how to write a bestseller.  What are your favourite books on writing? I'd love you to leave me a comment! 

179 ways to save a novel 

Matters of Vital concern to Fiction writers 
by Peter Selgin
The ideas in this book are grouped under six headings: Substance; Structure; Style; Symbol, Myth & Metaphor; Soul and Other Matters.

Self Editing for Fiction writers
How to edit yourself into print 
by Renni Browne and Dave King
This book has great examples and also wonderful cartoons, although it does cover ground that will be familiar to most, such as 'show not tell'. I include it because it is the best basic book on editing I have ever found, and the instructions are really clear.

Front Cover

Between the Lines
Master the subtle Elements of Fiction writing 
by Jessica Morrell
Few books attempt to explore subtleties of tone and voice. This book does just this. Most of the examples given are from the US and this can be off-putting if you are a Brit, but it is still a book well-worth reading.

The Art of Fiction 
Illustrated from classic and Modern texts 
by David Lodge
A series of articles from The Independent on Sunday, this book covers such things as 'the intrusive author', 'intertextuality' and 'defamiliarization' using examples as diverse as Charlotte Bronte and Michael Frayn. It is a book of literary criticism from which writers can learn a lot, although it is not strictly speaking a 'how to' book. The examples in this book show just how far you can go as a writer to make your voice your own.

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