Friday, May 20, 2011

How Much "How-to-Write" Reading Do You Do?

The whole process of writing fascinates me, because it's such a challenge to fit all the parts together to make a satisfying whole. In the back of my mind, I think there's a tiny part of me that hopes reading a new book about the craft of writing might contain some "magic" that will elevate my writing to a whole new level.

Of course, reading alone doesn't get me there. The magic happens when you work hard at becoming a better writer, and at making your writing the best it can be.

But I do like to read different perspectives on the process and think about strategies that might help improve my writing. Even though I don't always consciously apply what I've read, I figure it will filter into my writing at some point.

My latest read about the process of writing is Donald Maass's Writing the Breakout Novel. I can't believe I haven't read this before. So this weekend (which is a long weekend up here in Canada), I'm going to be enjoying my writing book as I start to think about my next project.

Do you read many books about the craft of writing? Do you have any recommendations?


  1. I have a ton craft books that I have yet to read. I find that some of them are better than others. I have actually learned more from reading fiction.

    Right now I'm revising and I love MANUSCRIPT MAKEOVER by Elizabeth Lyon.

  2. I judge them by how much they make me want to go and write. If they just annoy or confuse me, then no good. But if they inspire and motivate, I'll read them over and over, esp. during those times when I'm slacking. Stephen King's On Writing is one that really inspires me.

  3. Very little How-to-Write books cross my desk. There is an exception. Orson Scott Card wrote a really great book about character building. A definite must read!

  4. I do read the ones I feel will work for me. And some have been incredible but that doesn't always mean I can apply it to my writing. So the biggest help for me has been breaking down and analyzing published novel to see how author have applied craft themselves.

  5. I've read a ton of them and own quite a few. I find I read them in spurts now. I might read 5 in a row, then not read any more for 2 years.

  6. The problem with most how-to books is they make perfect sense when you read them, but never quite clear how to apply them to your own wip.

  7. I've read about half of Breakout Novel and found a lot of good stuff in there. One of my favourites is How Not to Write A Novel, which has the bonus of being funny. There's a few writing book reviews on my blog if you're interested, just click on the subject in the word cloud.

  8. I have all kinds of books on the craft of writing, and in different rooms of the house just for inspiration wherever I happen to be :-) Right now I've got markers in Betsy Lerner's Forest for the Trees, Anne Lamott's Bird by Bird, and Marshall Cook's How to Write with the Skill of a Master and the Genius of a Child. Each one helps me in different ways.

  9. I think I learn from both reading about the writing process and from analyzing other books to see how they've been written. Right now, a lot of what I'm reading in Maass's book is resonating with me, and I'm jotting down notes for my novel as I read. Taking my time to stop and think about my own project as I'm reading helps me get more out of it.

    Karen G., it's definitely true that a good writing book should make you want to go and write something!

    Kenda, your home sounds interesting, with writing books all over! If I did that, someone would put something else on top, or put them away somewhere I couldn't find them!


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