books for writers

March 04, 2009

must-read for writers
must-read for writers

More of the Deborah Bouziden interview:

DB: What are three or four books writers should have on their shelves? And why these books?

SW: What a great question! I’m totally going to go over the limit here. All of these are books every writer should have, not just romance writers.

• Techniques of the Selling Writer by Dwight Swain is probably out of print but well worth tracking down. It opened my mind to commercial elements in fiction, particularly pacing.
 Writing Fiction by Janet Burroway is a staple, so big and rich I find myself going back to it again and again. Don’t worry about the cover price. Just hold your nose and pay it.
• The Writer’s Journey by Christopher Vogler. (Full disclosure: I’m friends with Chris and his amazing wife Alice.) Chris loves it when I say this: He is a god to me. Seriously, the memo that became this book unlocked stories for me in a way nothing else ever has. I love this book so much I annotated my own.
• Writing the Blockbuster Novel by Al Zuckerman shows us how to take material apart and put it back together and why it’s not insanity to do so, again and again.
• Writing the Breakout Novel by Donald Maass comes with a companion workbook, and both are must-haves. Don is one of the best brainstormers and story analysts I know. He has a unique understanding of what makes fiction work.
• Anything by Michael Hauge. He’s a story analyst, too, but comes at it from the perspective of screenwriting. His books and workshops are invaluable.
• Walking on Water by Madeleine L’Engle is more spiritual, about inspiration.
• If You Want to Write by Brenda Euland is also spiritual, about aspiration.

  • LOL ~ not so much eagle eye as creating a shopping list. You’ll be happy to know that Dwight Swain is available via Amazon.

    Call me crazy, but I think a collage/Chris session would be fab!

    Thanks for the pre-conference reading.

  • Good catch, Eagle Eyes! Thank you. Field’s End was lucky enough to get Chris for a fall workshop. Wouldn’t it be great to bring him back for conference?!

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